An all terrain vehicle accident last Wednesday on the canal near Gordon Creek Road serves as a reminder that the safety of the riders poses a mounting concern to local law enforcement authorities.
ATV numbers have increased rapidly in rural America, including Carbon County.
In addition, the accident rate involving ATV-related injuries and deaths has climbed, according to many national experts.
The United States Consumer Products Safety Commission estimates that up to 90,000 ATV-related injuries and 120 deaths occur annually.
Nearly 50 percent of the injuries and fatalities are children younger than 16 years old.
Many riders have little idea of how dangerous the machines can be until they actually fall off or the units roll on them.
Manufacturers print various warnings on the machines as well as in the handbooks that come with the units. But many individuals virtually ignore the safety recommendations.
While the majority of people consider the machines mostly for play, a growing number of agricultural and commercial users are buying the units to transport employees and perform work in areas difficult to access with other vehicles.
The situation adds to the problem since workers using the ATVs are not trained properly on the machines. And when working on ATVs, most people do not wear helmets.
But professional instruction and certification, safe speeds, protective gear- especially helmets - and adherence to laws reduce the risk of accidents, deaths and injuries.
Various kind of machines have differences.
For instance, three-wheeled ATVs have unique handling characteristics.
Beginning all-terrain vehicle riders should obtain professional instruction as well as certification to operate the machines.
Before taking the machine out for actual use, riders should practice on a level area, then in a more difficult but controlled environment, before venturing on an ATV into rough or unfamiliar terrain.
For some older machines, the only suspension provided on the units is the tires.
Excessive speed, combined with rough terrain, can create enough pitch and bounce to cause the operator to lose control of the vehicle.
The federal consumer product agency and the Specialty Institute of America believe ATV accidents can be reduced if riders will follow several simple rules.
Machine operators should always wear approved protective helmets and safety gear.
Depending on the kind of riding being done, boots, gloves, other types of padding and guards are important.
Eye protection is one of the most important aspects of riding an ATV. Sunglasses generally do not provide adequate protection. Instead, riders should wear approved goggles.
Machine operators should never wear loose clothing that can get tangled up in the machinery.
All three-wheeled ATVs are designed for one rider and not for passengers.
Don't drive and drink, even on an ATV.
Always read instruction manuals before operating unfamiliar machines.
While some states (like Wyoming) do allow the machines to be licensed for the road, most machines are not designed to be ridden on paved roads.
Use the machines with common sense and pay attention to areas closed to ATV use. Just because a machine will do something or go somewhere doesn't mean anyone needs to do it.
Since ATVs are relatively small and low to the ground, they are difficult to see. Use lights, reflectors and flags to improve visibility.
Some ATV's are designed for children; others are not. Since almost half of the injury accidents on ATV's happen to children they must be instructed on proper operation. Parents should remember that ATVs are not simply overgrown tricycles. Although a child may be the recommended age to ride a particular size ATV, not all youngsters have the strength, skill or judgment needed to operate one.
To turn an ATV, keep most body weight on the outside foot peg and lean the upper body into the turn.
When climbing hills, shift body weight forward by leaning to keep the front wheel(s) on the ground. If for some reason a machine must be stopped when going uphill, never apply the rear brake. The operator should get off the machine and turn it around to proceed down the hill. When going down hills, keep the engine running and in gear, apply the rear brake and avoid sharp turns.
Avoid "side hill" situations, to keep from rolling over.
For the most part ATV's handle better with only one person on them. Some are equipped for passengers, but the dynamics of riding them change when the extra weight is added. Only experienced riders should have someone else with them.
As with most machines, the unit is only as safe as the operator habits, training and willingness to follow advice and the law.