Speed and Rough Terrain May Be a Deadly Mix For ATV Drivers

By KBJR News 1

May 16, 2012 Updated May 16, 2012 at 5:25 PM CST

(Northland's NewsCenter)---In the last month three people, two men and a child have been killed in Northland all-terrain vehicle crashes.

In the wake of the tragic accidents, Department of Natural Resources officials are reminding riders to take safety measures before hitting the trails.

"It might feel like we are going to tip up here but we won't," Todd Rivard said.

Rivard and his wife, Mary Ann, are spending their vacation riding the uneven terrains at the The Iron Range Off Highway Vehicle Recreation Area in Gilbert.

"We've installed turn signals and rear-view mirrors, he said. "Harnesses, safety harnesses that hold you into the seats better. The machine comes with a lap belt which may be adequate, but we just felt the need to be a little safer in case of the unfortunate event that we rollover."

ATVs are made for off-road use with a high center of gravity, low pressure tires and a short wheel base.

But that design combined with rough terrain can be a deadly mix.

Officials say rollovers are the leading cause of ATV injuries and fatalities.

"A lot of people feel that they are better than the machine is," Dennis Pershern, of the Iron Range OHV Recreation Area said. "But they have to remember that they are driving the machine, the machine is not driving them,"

Officials are reminding riders to wear helmets, closed-toe shoes and gloves, and always drive at a responsible speed.

They also advise that if you do lose control and rollover, the best thing to do is to try to get away from the vehicle.

"Don't try to stay with it," Bill Rebarich of the OHV Recreation Area said. "Roll the opposite way it's going and get yourself away from it. Because if the machine rolls over on top of you, you will sustain considerable injuries."

Any Minnesota ATV driver, born after July 1, of 1987, must complete an ATV Safety Training course.

Youth ages 11-15 must also complete a riding class before riding on public lands.

"It used to be the juvenile youth are the primary causes of accidents," Don Bozovsky, a DNR Conservation Officer said. "That's not true anymore. The safety classes are helping."

ATV experts at the OHV Recreation Area say they expect to see an increase in ATV usage once school end for the summer.

Jennifer Walch
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