Memorial Day is on the horizon, a weekend which many people consider to be the unofficial start of summer. Gearheads in our circle – and probably yours, too – tend to hit up some of their favorite trails during the holiday, so safety groups are imploring everyone to don a brain bucket and keep their machine shiny side up.
In particular, the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) is reminding consumers that safe riding is essential when enjoying outdoor trail time on their ATVs and other off-highway vehicles (OHVs) this summer. Anyone who has spent time at the handlebars of an ATV or behind the wheel of a UTV knows that mishaps can happen in the blink of an eye – whether it’s a rollover, accidental endo, or misjudging an obstacle by that much and putting your machine in a tough spot. The danger is real: CPSC’s estimates there are more than 700 deaths annually and an estimated 100,000 emergency department-treated injuries involving OHVs.
Beyond the blindingly obvious suggestions to wear a helmet which is sized properly for an appropriate fit, the CPSC also recommends riders invest in and hands-on training from a qualified instructor, such as the education found in an ATV Safety Institute (ASI) course. They also suggest to never ride with more passengers than there are seats, which is a great way to phrase what is a very important rule. Sure, it can be tempting to stuff eight of yer buddies in a side-by-side for a laugh or permit a couple of people to perch on the edge of an ATV’s cargo rack during a short run across a field. However, it’s exactly those types of situations in which many injuries occur.
Other common-sense advice (which, let’s be honest, isn’t always that common) from the CPSC include not mixing alcohol or drugs with your off-road fun, steering clear of public paths not intended for OHVs, and staying off paved roads in general. Speaking to the latter point, the suspension and tires on an ATV or side-by-side are built for optimal comfort and control in tough terrain, not smooth blacktop. Long travel dampers and knobby tires are ideal for Glamis but a poor choice for Highway 1.
Be safe this weekend, gearheads! And have fun.