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ATV safety courses provide valuable skills to keep you safe | Families

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ATV safety courses provide valuable skills to keep you safe
ATV safety courses provide valuable skills to keep you safe

In last two weeks Eastern Washington and North Idaho have seen over five ATV accidents including one death in the LC Valley last week. While ATV riding is fun, it's important to learn proper technique to remain safe.


“We think it takes special skills to ride an ATV,” says Dale Stevens, a licensed ATV safety instructor with the ATV Safety Institute. ASI is a non-profit sponsored by the all the major ATV manufacturers. Instructors like Stevens teach regular safety classes to educate riders on proper technique, safety skills and the responsibilities that come with owning and riding ATVs.


After taking his course many riders tell Stevens that they didn't know what a work out riding is and that they expected it to be easier. Stevens says that a lot of people expect ATVs to be like riding a couch on wheels but it that it takes a lot of physical effort and knowledge of how ATVs operate to remain safe while riding.


Most accidents Stevens hears of are caused by one of four things: improper riding technique, riding an ATV that is too large, fatigue or improper use of the ATV, such as riding with two people on an ATV built for one person. Most ATV accidents are roll overs caused because of one of these issues.


Idaho requires that people 16 years and younger take ATV safety classes, but Washington doesn't require any type of training at all. Stevens teaches two to three classes a month year round and is able to schedule more to meet demand for them. ASI safety classes run between $90-$150, however, since Idaho requires classes, Idaho Parks and Recreation offers classes for free. Can't make it to class? ASI also has an online, interactive course to help you learn some safety basics.


Stevens recommends that everyone take a safety class before climbing onto an ATV, but he also says there are some basic things every rider, new and experienced needs to keep in mind. Stevens says to always follow the manufacturers limitations and restrictions for each ATV. Warning labels will tell you how old someone should be to ride that ATV, how many people can ride on it and when not to ride.


In addition to knowing how to ride, it's also important to know where to ride. Stevens emphasizes that riders should always travel on designated trails and should always travel with a buddy or pack. National forests provide maps of the trails that are approved for motor vehicles and tell what seasons they are open.


ATV trails are also marked for skill level. As with skiing, you wouldn't hit a double black diamond slope when your skills are suited for the bunny hills. Stevens says it important to be aware of what you are capable of. Don't tackle a trail for advanced riders when you're still learning.


If you're new to riding it's always good to surround yourself with experienced ATV enthusiasts. One way to do this is by getting involved with local ATV clubs such as the Eastern Washington ATV Association. Clubs are a great way to ride with others while you familiarize yourself with different trails.


Riding can be a fun adventure, but only if you keep safe. Like all motor vehicles its important to know how to ride before you ride.


For more information on how to ride safe or to enroll in ATV safety course in your area visit www.atvsafety.org

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