By Elizabeth Fortune, University of Arkansas Extension communications specialist
Jaret Rushing is taking some of his own advice these days, especially where ATV safety is concerned.
Rushing, a Calhoun County extension agent for the University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture, spent the end of November nursing bruises, cuts and a pair of black eyes following an ATV accident that threw him to the ground and left a 200-pound sow dead.
Rushing was lucky. According to the federal Consumer Product Safety Commission, there were 750 reported ATV-related deaths across the United States in 2006, the most recent figure available. In Arkansas alone, there have been an estimated 237 ATV deaths between 1982-2007.
"One particular aspect of our job as county agents is to promote ATV safety," he said. "We try to drill it in a participant's head to wear proper protective equipment. With this said, I plead, ‘Do as I say, and not as I do'!"
That particular lesson was driven home as he rode his ATV one Friday night along a familiar path that ran near his deer stand.
"As I started heading home, I had one of the most freak accidents that an outdoorsman could possibly encounter: I hit a feral hog," he said. "This particular encounter was so astonishing that, even as I was skidding and tumbling down the gravel road, I still couldn't believe what had just happened."
His ATV wound up 45 yards away, its forward motion finally stopped by a tree. The hog was 20 yards away. Fortunately, Rushing carried his cell phone and was able to call for help. His father and brother packed Rushing into a truck and the headed to the emergency room.
"After coming to a halt and knowing that a trip to the doctor was in my near future, I couldn't help but think of some of the things that I did wrong," he said.
- "First and foremost, I was not wearing a helmet. I told myself before I started home that it was only about a 2- or 3-mile drive and nothing could possibly happen so fierce that I would need a helmet. I was wrong!"
- "Second, I was driving my ATV a little too fast, as many people do when it is cold. All I could think about was getting home and getting warm!"
Rushing said he's not looking for sympathy, but wants his experience to be a lesson to ATV riders who take safety for granted.
"If my accident gets one person to say, ‘that can really happen,' that's all I'm after," Rushing said.
What happened to the hog? Rushing's brother took it home and processed it.
"It'll be some of the best barbecue I'll ever eat," Rushing said.
For more safety tips, follow this link to Youth and Adult ATV Safety.