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MADISON- As the all-terrain vehicle and utility-terrain vehicle trail-riding season approaches in Wisconsin, Department of Natural Resources wardens encourage riders to grab their helmets so they have safe, enjoyable rides.
Gary Eddy, DNR ATV safety administrator and warden, says many counties may make decisions to open their ATV/UTV trails to the public now that the temperatures are rising and trails are drying. Eddy says one of the most important tips is to always wear a helmet approved by the Department of Transportation.
“The use of a helmet is the single most important piece of protection an ATV rider can wear,” Eddy says. “In 2014, 96 percent of victims in ATV/UTV fatalities were not wearing a helmet. This is why we encouraged you to always wear a helmet when you ride. You can’t anticipate when a crash will happen, so you have to be prepared by wearing a helmet.”
Other safety reminders from Eddy include:
• Never drink and ride. ATV trails can be rough, rocky, and unpredictable; they require peak concentration and reflexes. Alcohol only increases the chances of a tragedy occurring.
• Complete an ATV safety course. All ATV riders at least age 12 (and UTV operators at least age 16) and born after January 1, 1988 must complete a course prior to operating an ATV or UTV. This course may be completed either in a classroom or over the internet. Visit the Wisconsin DNR website and search keyword “ATV Safety” to learn more.
• Limit your operation on roads. ATVs and UTVs are not designed for safe or stabile operation on paved surfaces, due to the traditional tread and low pressure tires designed for off road conditions.
• Slow down. Public ATV trails are not race courses. Expect to meet other people on the trail. Trails typically don’t have established lanes of travel; however, safe practice is to operate on the right side of the trail. Bumps, puddles and rocks are part of the trail riding experience; use caution, share the trail and avoid riding outside your limits.
• Keep headlights on at all times for increased visibility.
For more information on ATV/UTV safety classes, items to know before you go, where to ride and regulations search the DNR website for ATV.
ATV/UTV is among our state’s favorite recreational activities in the summer months. Let’s keep it safer by wearing a helmet and keeping the alcohol off the trails.