Teach and practice ATV safety on your farm
May 06, 2014
In 2012, ATVs accounted for 353 reported deaths nationwide. It’s estimated that 107,900 injuries related to ATV accidents were treated in emergency rooms, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission. Roughly 25 percent of these were children younger than 16 years of age.
"We see it with first time buyers of ATVs: they buy it, they bring it home, they hop on, they fire it up, and take off," said Ron Nott, director of claims at Grinnell Mutual. "They don’t think about training courses, they don’t think about helmets, they don’t think about appropriate safety equipment."
"We have had instances where someone has had an injury accident less than a week after purchasing an ATV."
Teaching and practicing safety habits will prevent members of your family from becoming a statistic.
1. Inspect the machine.
"It sounds cliché, but if it’s been stored all winter you will want to walk around and inspect your ATV," said Nott.
The National Education Center for Agricultural Safety (NECAS) recommends inspecting for the following:
- Are tires and wheels in good condition?
- Are the controls and cable operational?
- Does the chain have proper slack and is it lubricated?
- Is riding gear (including a helmet) available?
2. Never ride on public roads.
"ATVs are not intended to be used on a public roadway," said Nott. "We’ve had instances where someone is using the ATV in a farm application, riding in a ditch. The rider pops over the road, doesn’t think to check before crossing the road, and is broadsided, leading to serious injuries or fatalities."
"It’s like we were taught as kids: If you’re crossing the roadway, please make sure you look both ways before you cross."
3. Never carry a passenger on a single-rider vehicle.
"It’s designed for one person for a reason," said Nott. "When you have the extra person on there, it can restrict movement and create issues like accessing the brakes."
4. Ride an ATV that’s right for your age.
Follow the manufacturer recommendations for minimum age and riders. Children under the age of 16 should never operate an adult-sized ATV (90cc or greater) and children under the age of 12 should not operate ATVs. Supervise riders younger than 16.
"I was a kid once, too," said Nott. "Sometimes kids try to do things with ATVs that they shouldn’t do."
5. If you’re a first-time owner, educate yourself.
"It’s the old axiom: read the manual," said Nott. "Follow the instructions and recommendations from the manufacturer. They’re there for a reason. Look at them and follow them."
"If you’re buying an ATV and it’s your first one, I would strongly encourage you to check into the appropriate riding courses in your area for safety."
To sign up for an ATV RiderCourse, call toll-free at 800-887-2887 or go to http://www.atvsafety.org/. For more tips for using your farm and recreational vehicles safely, visit "Farm Talk on the Front Porch" at grinnellmutual.com.