June 14, 2014 10:50:22 PM
The Mississippi State University Extension Service is taking steps to reduce the number of accidents and fatalities involving all-terrain vehicles, or ATVs.
Larry Alexander, 4-H youth development specialist with the MSU Extension Service, said national ATV Safety Week June 8-15 has been the perfect opportunity to highlight the importance of properly using these powerful vehicles.
"County Extension offices are working to educate young people and adults through educational displays, workshops and events this week," Alexander said. "Several agents are certified ATV safety instructors and can offer certification courses for young riders."
Alexander said these are the ATV Safety Institute's Golden Rules for safe riding:
n Always wear a Department of Transportation-compliant helmet, goggles, long sleeves, long pants, over-the-ankle boots and gloves.
n To avoid being hit by another vehicle, never ride on paved roads, except to cross when it can be done safely and is permitted by law. ATVs are not designed to be operated on highways and streets.
n Never ride under the influence of alcohol or other drugs.
n Never carry a passenger on a single-rider ATV. Carry only one passenger on an ATV specifically designed for two people.
n Ride an ATV that is age and size appropriate.
n Supervise riders younger than 16 years old; ATVs are not toys.
n Ride only on designated trails and at a safe speed.
Alexander said 4-H recently hired a full-time ATV safety instructor, Brad Staton, who will help coordinate and expand the ATV safety program in Mississippi. Staton also will offer non-riding ATV safety programs for participants of all ages.
"We're dedicated to increasing awareness of the rules surrounding proper ATV use," Alexander said. "With the new Mississippi Farm Bureau 4-H ATV Training Center and Trail at the Bryan 4-H Youth Complex in Clay County, we have the space we need to educate more people and, we hope, to reduce the number of accidents and fatalities in Mississippi."