ATV riders urged to practice safety over deadly holiday weekend

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Trying to prevent deadly holiday weekend for ATV ridersA federal consumer agency is warning All-Terrain Vehicle (ATV) riders to take precautions this Memorial Day weekend, traditionally one of the deadliest of the year.

For the four-day period surrounding the 2009 Memorial Day holiday, the Consumer Product Safety Commission reports that 27 ATV riders lost their lives, including two under the age of 16. That's an average of almost seven deaths a day.

As the ATV season kicks into gear, the death toll has already begun to climb. For the month of April, CPSC staff compiled media reports of at least 40 fatalities, including 12 involving children under the age of 16.

CPSC data indicates ATV-related deaths tend to jump an average of 30% from March to April for children under 16. Adult deaths increase 88% on average for the same period. During 2003-2005, ATV-related deaths rose each month during the spring and into the summer, peaking in July, when 23 children and 76 adults were killed in ATV-related incidents on average.

"If springtime deaths and injuries are an indication of what's to come, we urge all ATV riders, young and old, to take all necessary safety precautions," CPSC Chairman Inez Tenenbaum said in a statement. "Far too many people are losing their lives and sustaining life-threatening injuries, which in many cases are preventable. CPSC is working diligently to ensure that the ATVs on the market meet mandatory standards and to promote safe riding practices."

Since an April 2009 CPSC mandate, ATV manufacturers and distributors have been required to offer free, hands-on training through their dealers to first-time purchasers and members of their immediate families within a reasonable amount of time from purchase. CSPC also requires companies to also offer first-time purchasers a $100 incentive for taking the hands-on training offered by the ATV Safety Institute (ASI). ASI also offers online training for experienced ATV riders.

Many ATV-related deaths and injuries are preventable, the CPSC says, and encourages all ATV riders of all ages to make this riding season safer by following the basic rules of the trail:
  • Take a hands-on safety training course
  • Always wear protective gear – especially a helmet – when riding ATVs
  • Do not ride or drive a single-rider ATV with a passenger or ride as a passenger
  • Do not drive ATVs on paved roads
  • Do not permit children younger than 16 to drive or ride adult ATVs. Always choose an age-appropriate ATV for your child
Recreational off-highway vehicles (ROVs), also known as side-by-sides, have grown in popularity in recent years, and CPSC reminds riders and passengers that they are different from ATVs. Unlike ATVs, ROVs have a steering wheel, bench or bucket seats, seatbelts, foot controls and a roll cage. They, too, are associated with a number of fatalities and injuries every year. To learn more, visit ATVSafety.gov and download the agency's public service announcement.
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