ATV Safety Requires Parental Supervision

ARA Content

(ARA) - With their bright colors, balloon tires and big fenders, all-terrain vehicles might just look toy-like to some parents. But while ATVs can be a lot of fun, they aren't child's play. ATVs are motorized machines that require the right kind of training before heading out on the trails. And even if your child has gone through a safety class, he or she still needs your direct supervision whenever behind the handlebar.

Simply put, parental responsibility is key to ATV safety for children. Even if your child has learned and mastered the rules and skills of safe ATV riding, youngsters can forget important rules, become overconfident or act carelessly.

The ATV Safety Institute and nearly 1,000 training facilities nationwide stand ready to present you and your child with the information, attitude, and practical skills needed to properly operate ATVs. More than 1,500 certified ASI Instructors teach half-day courses that are a mixture of discussion and riding time. You and your child can learn the basics of ATV controls, braking, proper steering technique, and how to navigate hills and assorted obstacles. Plus, you will learn all about the "Golden Rules" of riding safety, wearing proper gear, risk management and even the importance of respecting the off-road environment.

The ASI RiderCourse is free to purchasers of new ATVs, and it is available to everyone else for only $125 for adults and $75 for kids aged 15 and under. Some training sites even offer a "Try Before You Buy" class, where you can borrow an ATV and all the gear you need.

More than 90 percent of accidents happen when the golden rules of ATV riding are broken. Bad behaviors include riding double (an ATV is for one person only!), riding on public and paved roads, riding without helmets, riding the wrong size ATV and kids riding unsupervised.

When it's time to buy ATVs for you and your family, it's critical that you pay close attention to the age-size guidelines as specified by the manufacturers and strongly recommended by the ATV Safety Institute. Adult-size ATVs (over 90cc) should NEVER be ridden by children. First, child-size ATVs fit smaller bodies better and ensure that all the controls are within easy reach. Second, an ATV is "rider-active," in that it requires shifting of body position for proper turning. A small child on a large, powerful ATV won't be able to effectively steer the adult machine.

The ATV age guidelines are:

* Age 6 and older -- Under 70cc * Age 12 and older -- 70cc to 90cc * Age 16 and older -- Over 90cc

Once you've got your child on the right machine, always ensure that it's in proper working order. Teach your child a lesson in responsibility by inspecting the ATV with him or her before and after a ride. Checking out your ATV can minimize the chances of being injured or stranded out on the trails. And remember: You can ride farther in just couple of hours than you can likely walk in a whole day.

The ASI RiderCourse suggests using the "T-CLOC" acronym as a way to remember the key ATV components that need inspection:

T Tires and wheels C Controls L Lights and switches O Oil and fuel level C Chain/drive shaft and chassis

Refer to your ATV's owner's manual for detailed information on proper maintenance of your ATV. Also pay close attention to the warning labels and stickers affixed to the machine itself.

More than 15 million Americans enjoy ATVs. Some 70 percent of them list "riding as a family" as one of their main reasons to head to the trails. For a lifetime of family fun, start by contacting the ATV Safety Institute at (800) 887-2887, or visit the ASI on the Web at www.atvsafety.org where you can easily sign up for an ATV RiderCourse through online enrollment.


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