The nation as a whole has seen fewer fatalities from ATV crashes over recent years.

That is a trend that can and must continue.

It is also one that has played out at the state and local levels. However, a recent tragedy went against the life-saving trend.

Parents and guardians must be on the lookout for dangerous machines and behavior.

ATVs can be safe and fun. But the adults must make sure safety precautions are taken and that all proper procedures are followed.

Although the local numbers are small, the likelihood of tragedy can be lessened.

Riders should always use helmets that fit them, taking care to protect the most important part of their bodies.

Adults responsible for youngsters should make sure kids know how to ride safely and ensure that everyone is using a machine that is the right size and appropriate for each person’s skill level.

All drivers should also be aware of the laws governing where and how ATVs can be driven.

A good rule of thumb is that if a vehicle doesn’t have a license plate, it should not be driven on a roadway. Keeping these vehicles – which don’t have all the safety equipment cars and trucks have – off the roads would be a tremendous improvement.

These tips come from

Always wear a DOT-compliant helmet, goggles, long sleeves, long pants, over-the-ankle boots and gloves.

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.

Never carry a passenger on a single-rider ATV, and no more than one passenger on an ATV specifically designed for two people.

Ride an ATV that's right for your age.

Supervise riders younger than 16; ATVs are not toys.

Ride only on designated trails and at a safe speed.

And, of course, never drive anything – car, truck, boat, SUV, tractor or bicycle – when you are under the influence of drugs or alcohol. If you see someone who has been drinking preparing to drive, take his or her keys. It might cause a momentary dispute, but it is no exaggeration to say that lives can be saved by doing so.

Just like any toy or tool, ATVs can be useful and fun. But you have to respect the dangers associated with them and take precautions to keep yourself and your kids safe.


Editorials represent the opinion of the newspaper, not of any individual.