Get Dirty! ATV-accelerating, terrifying, very scary? Not anymore for first-timer.

A person riding an ATV

ATV… Amazing ride, Totally extreme, Very dirty. Those letters describe many people's experience while riding their favorite all-terrain vehicle (ATV). Until recently for me those letters stood for; Accelerating (too fast), Terrifying, Very scary. I have always been very skeptical of any ATV, partly because I wasn't around them growing up and also I am not what most would call a risk taker. However, this past weekend I decided to live on the edge.

My brother-in-law is very well-versed in the area of anything that has an engine and brought his 4-wheeler over to our house. He somehow convinced me to get suited up and take it for a ride down our driveway…all by myself. I felt very powerful, sitting on that ATV, learning the ropes of the three gears and where the throttle was, or what the throttle was for that matter. Once I started driving it seemed pretty obvious why people like ATVs…it was an amazing ride. There is something very appealing about being in control and taking to the trail with the dust blowing in your face.

It took me one day and two rides to decide that investing in one of these machines might be in my future. What have I been missing for the last 15 years? Why did I wait so long to try one of these ATV "things" out? I decided to do extensive research and look at my options before purchasing. Through my research I came across a lot of safety tips and helpful information. In light of my new adventurous side, I won't try to deter you with these, rather encourage you to suit up and be safe while out on the trail.

Although each state differs on ATV laws and regulations, these tips should help no matter where you decide to get dirty!

  • Take a safety training course. Go to www.ATVSafety.gov to find a class in your area.
  • Helmets and Protective Gear! Many head related injuries are because the rider was not wearing a helmet. Don't think they are cool? Throw some stickers on it or paint, its way cooler to be safe then have a severe head injury.
  • Your helmet should be certified by the U.S. Department of Transportation and/or the Snell Memorial Foundation. Boots, goggles, gloves, long pants and long-sleeved shirts are always helpful in avoiding cuts and other injuries.
  • Do not drive an ATV with a passenger or ride as a passenger.
  • Do not drive on paved roads. Because of how ATVs are designed, they are very hard to control on pavement. Many fatalities involving ATVs occur on paved roads.
  • Do not permit children to drive or ride an adult ATV. Children under 16 are involved in about one-third of all adult-size ATV-related deaths or injuries. A staggering statistic considering that children under 16 should never be driving or riding an adult-size ATV. Take responsibility as parents or guardians.
  • Do not drive an ATV while under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

ATV's are growing quickly in popularity and so should the safety precautions taken while driving them.

Don't be like me and wait so long to get out on the trail. Will I purchase one? Only time will tell, but my brother-in-law just bought me a hot pink helmet to make the decision a little easier. Now all I need to buy is an ATV to go along with my helmet.

Stay safe wherever you choose to go on your off-road vehicle.



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