U.S. Rep. Tim Griffin and other experts point to training, gear and responsible use as significant factors to increase safety.
U.S. Rep. Tim Griffin (R-AR) kicked off the International 4-Wheel Powersports Vehicle Safety Conference by addressing participants via a pre-recorded video saying, “Regardless of whether you ride on two wheels or four wheels, staying safe is critical. Everyone should take appropriate safety precautions by practicing safe riding techniques, and wearing the right kind of gear.”
Griffin, co-chairman of the Congressional Motorcycle Caucus, and himself a passionate two- and four-wheel off-highway vehicle enthusiast continued, “Preventing accidents and protecting the environment starts with rider education and increased awareness, not more government regulations.” Safety experts and stakeholder participants in the conference who followed Representative Griffin seconded these messages.
The i4 Conference, hosted by the Recreational Off-Highway Vehicle Association, the Right Rider Access Fund, and the Specialty Vehicle Institute of America, was aimed at improving operator behavior in order to reduce all-terrain vehicle and recreational off-highway vehicle crashes and injuries, and featured 15 expert panelists who discussed safety topics affecting OHVs and riders/drivers from around the world. The panels included topics for international associations, youth programs, dealerships, land managers and enthusiast organizations.
Sandy Stroope, owner of Boat World Honda Polaris powersports dealership and conference panel participant, pointed out that appropriate and safe operator behavior begins even before the ride. “We have to be absolutely sure we emphasize appropriately sized machines.” Other panelists agreed and a key focus of the session was identifying opportunities to ensure that parents do not purchase vehicles that are inappropriate for their children.
Russ Ehnes, executive director of the National Off-Highway Vehicle Conservation Council and conference panel participant, said, “The i4 Conference was a great opportunity for the entire OHV community to get together and discuss safety. It was very encouraging to hear from industry, land managers, enthusiasts and even international representatives that we are on the right track in terms of strategy and in terms of reducing the rate of serious incidents. This conference helped to confirm our direction and to energize everyone in our community to work even harder.”
“Conference participants all agreed that safe operation of ATVs and ROVs is principally dependent on operator behavior. While everyone involved in OHV recreation has a role to play in promoting OHV safety, the safest OHV enthusiasts are those who choose to wear appropriate safety gear, get trained and follow manufacturer recommendations,” said Paul Vitrano, executive vice president of the ATV Safety Institute and the Recreational Off-Highway Vehicle Association.
“The industry associations will continue to do our part by encouraging all ATV and ROV operators to follow ASI’s Golden Rules of ATV Safety, ROHVA’s Safety Rules and by continuing to innovate, update and offer online and hands-on safety training.”
The ASI strongly recommends that all ATV riders follow the warning labels on each vehicle. All ATV enthusiasts, no matter their age or experience level, can further minimize their risk by adhering to the ASI’s Golden Rules of ATV Safety:
1. Always wear a DOT-compliant helmet, goggles, long sleeves, long pants, over-the-ankle boots, and gloves.
2. Never ride on paved roads except to cross, when done safely and permitted by law. Another vehicle could hit you. ATVs are designed to be operated off-highway.
3. Never ride under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
4. Never carry a passenger on a single-rider ATV, and no more than one passenger on an ATV specifically designed for two people.
5. Ride an ATV that’s right for your age.
6. Supervise riders younger than 16. ATVs are not toys.
7. Ride only on designated trails and at a safe speed.
8. Take a hands-on ATV RiderCourse and the free online E-Course. Call toll-free at (800) 887-2887 or go to www.atvsafety.org to register.
ROHVA recommends that anyone under the age of 16, or without a driver’s license, not operate an ROV (also known as a “side-by-side”). ROHVA also urges all ROV drivers to help ensure their own safety and that of passengers and other trail users by following ROHVA’s Safety Rules:
1. Always fasten your seat belt, wear a helmet and other protective gear and keep all parts of your body inside the ROV.
2. Avoid paved surfaces. ROVs are designed to be operated off-highway.
3. Drive only in designated areas, at a safe speed, and use care when turning and crossing slopes.
4. Never drive or ride under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
5. Never drive an ROV unless you’re 16 or older and have a valid driver’s license. ROVs are not toys.
6. Never carry more passengers than the ROV is designed for, and never allow a passenger who is too small to sit in a passenger seat to ride in the ROV.
7. Read and follow the operator’s manual and warning labels.
8. Take a hands-on ROV Basic DriverCourse and the free online E-Course. Visit rohva.org or call 866.267.2751.
The Recreational Off-Highway Vehicle Association is a national industry organization that promotes the safe and responsible use of ROVs. ROHVA is accredited by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) to develop equipment, configuration and performance standards. Based in Irvine, Calif., the not-for-profit association is sponsored by Arctic Cat, BRP, Honda, John Deere, Kawasaki, Polaris and Yamaha. For more information visit www.rohva.org.
The Right Rider Access Fund is a charitable, community benefit organization created in 2011 to support off-highway vehicle enthusiasts directly, by supplementing the work of the Motorcycle Industry Council, the Specialty Vehicle Institute of America, and the Recreational Off-Highway Vehicle Association, and in other ways. The Fund’s charitable mission is to promote the safe and responsible use of off-highway vehicles and to preserve their access to appropriate lands. For more information, to contribute or for assistance in establishing a payroll deduction or matching gift program, visit www.riderfund.org or call 877-806-7813.
The Specialty Vehicle Institute of America, through its division, the ATV Safety Institute, promotes the safe and responsible use of all-terrain vehicles through rider training, public awareness campaigns and state legislation. Additionally, the SVIA works to preserve access to off-road lands and expand riding opportunities. The SVIA is a resource for ATV research, statistics and vehicle standards. Accredited by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI), the SVIA develops standards for the equipment, configuration and performance requirements of ATVs. Based in Irvine, Calif., the SVIA is a not-for-profit industry association sponsored by Arctic Cat, BRP, Honda, Kawasaki, KYMCO, Polaris, Suzuki and Yamaha. Visit the SVIA online at www.svia.org. For safety information or to enroll in the ATV RiderCourse nearest you, visit www.atvsafety.org or call (800) 887-2887.