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Off highway vehicle motorists encouraged to take course before heading for Utah trails

With the number of off-highway vehicles in Utah reaching an all-time high, Utah State Parks and Recreation staff remind riders to play it safe. All too often, an enjoyable day of recreating in Utah's mountains, deserts or other areas ends in tragedy because of an accident or injury on an all terrain vehicle or motorcycle.

Eric Stucki, off highway vehicle education specialist with the state parks division, encourages riders of all ages to get appropriate education before venturing out on a ride.

"The vast majority of riders have never taken an education course," reports Stucki. "This is the single biggest contributor to accidents in the state."

According to a recent survey, 78 percent of off highway vehicle accident victims reported having had no formal training in off-highway vehicle operation.

Stucki suggests riders, regardless of age, enroll in one of many training courses available throughout the state.

These courses are required for youth ages eight to 16 who want to ride on public land.

Since 1987, the state parks division has offered training for young riders.

Statistically, trained operators are significantly under represented in accident statistics.

For example, in 2002, Utah state park rangers investigated 168 off highway vehicle accidents.

Of those, 188 victims, 18 percent were under 16 years old, and only nine of those completed the division's training program.

Nationally, the Consumer Product Safety Commission reports nearly 40 percent of all all terrain vehicle accident victims are children under16 years old.

"We definitely feel our emphasis on education, coupled with parental supervision, has made a difference," stated Stucki.

For more information on safety or education courses, contact 800-648-7433.

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