By Sarah Naron

Messenger Reporter

HOUSTON COUNTY – With summertime upon us, a favorite outdoor activity for many individuals and families in the area is hopping on the back of an all-terrain vehicle and racing through the countryside – some in search of a day full of fun in the mud and others simply looking to take a peaceful, scenic trip as the sun goes down.

As Houston County Fire Marshal/Emergency Management Coordinator Roger Dickey pointed out, regardless of the circumstances surrounding one’s time on an ATV, it is imperative that all riders follow necessary safety protocols to ensure that a good time is had by all.

“Don’t allow kids who are too young to operate ATVs unsupervised,” said Dickey when speaking of some of the most important safety precautions. “Follow the helmet recommendations.”

In light of the recent observance of ATV Safety Week – June 1-10 – the ATV Safety Institute is continuing to encourage riders to follow the “Golden Rules” of safe ATV riding.

Among the suggestions made by the institute are to avoid carrying a passenger on an ATV which was meant for a single rider. For vehicles designed to accommodate the driver and one passenger, no additional riders should be carried on that vehicle.

Other precautions listed among the “Golden Rules” are riding only on trails which have been designated for use by ATVs and maintaining a safe speed at all times. Individuals who are under the influence of drugs or alcohol should abstain from driving ATVs.

“Usually, when we have an accident with one of those things, the injuries seem to be rather severe,” Dickey said. “So, it’s worth that few extra minutes to pay attention to safety, no doubt.”

As Dickey further stated, ATVs are not legally permitted to be driven on public roadways.

“It would be a Class C misdemeanor, a ticketable offense,” said Dickey when asked what penalties would be imposed on an individual driving an ATV on a public roadway. “They would get a citation for operating an unregistered vehicle on a roadway.”

Despite the penalties associated with the offense, statistics provided by the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) indicate that the operation of ATVs on public roadways is an all too common issue.

In a press release dated May 23, 2018, the CPSC estimated that a total of 770 fatalities occurred as a result of incidents in which ATVs were being ridden in parking lots or on paved roads during the period of time ranging from 2010-2013, accounting for nearly one-third of all ATV-related deaths reported during this time.

According to the release, reports for 2014-2017 regarding the matter are currently in progress.

“Even if your county or town law permits ATVs to be driven on paved, public roads, we urge you to take caution to keep your ATVs off these roads,” said CPSC Acting Chairman Ann Marie Buerke. “Off-road vehicles are not designed to be driven on paved surfaces, and collisions with cars and other on-road vehicles can be deadly for ATV operators.”

For more information on how to ensure safe ATV travels or to find a hands-on training course in your area, visit www.atvsafety.gov.