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ATVs: Fun But Dangerous

Over the weekend, several people in our area have been involved in ATV accidents, with one resulting in a death. ATVs are considered a good way to have fun, but some folks say it's not the activity that is dangerous, rather it's people who do not adhere to strict rules.

Eighteen-year-old Brandon McCranie has been riding his all terrain vehicle for two years. He says although these four wheelers can be fun they can also be dangerous.

"I was doing donuts on the road the rear wheel caught on a pole of sand it doesn't take much, but it wasn't anything major," says Brandon.

But that was a different story Friday. A Gadsden County man died from injuries resulting from an ATV accident, and less than 24 hours later, a 17-year-old and his passenger were injured in an accident.

Winn Pepples is an ATV dealer he says before selling one of these four wheelers he makes sure his buyers understand some important rules.

"You never carry a passenger on an ATV, they're specifically designed for that in addition these people did not have proper protective gear on it is required for dealers to provide information to folks purchasing ATVs,” says Winn Pepples.

The state of Florida does not require folks to wear helmets, but Pepples say it's a necessary tool to protect drivers from head injuries. Pepples says he would like to see a mandatory safety program instituted in Florida for folks who buy these ATVs so that folks can get proper training.

These ATVs are made for one person, adding a passenger makes it difficult for the driver to maneuver the vehicle and that can cause the ATV to tip over easily. The end result can be disastrous.

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All Terrain Vehicles (ATV) Safety

  • Three-wheeled ATVs have unique handling characteristics. Beginning riders should get professional instruction and certification. Practice first on a level area, then in a more difficult but controlled environment, before riding an ATV in rough or unfamiliar terrain.

  • Injury investigations show that the majority of accidents occur when the ATV unexpectedly encounters an obstacle, such as a rock or ditch. Do not exceed speeds that are safe for the terrain you are traveling.

  • For several ATVs, the only suspension provided on the machine is the low pressure (two psi to six psi) balloon tires. Excessive speed, combined with rough terrain, can create enough pitch and bounce to cause the operator to lose control of the vehicle. Models with factory-built suspension systems are more stable and controllable over rough terrain.

  • Always wear an approved protective helmet and other protective gear.

  • Three-wheeled ATVs are designed for one rider. DO NOT ride double.

  • Do not operate ATVs when using alcoholic beverages.

  • Always read the instruction manual and follow the manufacturer’s guidance for use, maintenance and pre-use checks.

  • Do not use ATVs on paved roads or streets.

  • Observe local laws or regulations and any regulations that have been established for public recreational areas where ATV use is permitted.

  • Since ATVs are relatively small and low to the ground, they are difficult to see. Use lights, reflectors and flags to improve visibility.

    Proper Riding Posture

    • Keep your head and eyes up, looking forward.

    • Shoulders should be relaxed, with elbows bent slightly.

    • Keep your hands on the handlebars; knees in toward the gas tank.

    • Feet should be on the footrests, toes pointing straight ahead.

    Recommended Sizes for Age

    • Less than 70 cc: Six-years and older

    • 70-90 cc: Twelve-years and older

    • More than 90 cc: Sixteen-years and older

    Source: www.cpsc.gov (Consumer Product Safety Commission Web site) has contributed to this report.


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