Recent ATV accidents that seriously hurt two people at Knolls is a reminder for riders to observe safety procedures to reduce injuries.
Tooele County’s Russ Steadman, part-owner of Steadman’s Recreation and a member of the Tooele County Trails Committee, offers several reminders to make ATV riding safer. He also has some etiquette points for ATV riders to observe.
“The biggest problem is often times people turn on the key for their ATV and then turn off their brain,” said Steadman.
Steadman suggests two websites, www.stateparks.utah.gov and www.atvsafety.org, for riders to review state laws, safety rules, and to find places to ride. For places to ATV specifically in Tooele County, go to www.tooelecountytrails.com. A Tooele County Trails map is also available.
Starting with the basics, Steadman reminds ATV riders that a D.O.T. approved helmet is required safety gear for all ATV riders in Utah.
Not required by law, but advisable according to Steadman, are a long sleeve shirt, long pants and boots that come over the ankle.
Utah state law also requires that ATV riders under the age of 15 must complete an online safety training course that can be found at www.vcourse.com.
Steadman recommends the online course, which takes three hours to complete, for all new ATV riders regardless of age.
The ATV Safety Institute, a non-profit organization that promotes ATV safety education, offers a hands-on ATV safety course. The cost of the course is covered for most new ATV buyers by the vehicle’s manufacturer, said Steadman. Registration information can be found at www.atvsafety.org.
He stressed that ATV riders need to take into consideration the limits of the machine they are riding and the limitations of their skill level.
“An experienced rider on a two-wheel drive vehicle needs to remember that their machine may not be able to tackle the same steep terrain that a four-wheel drive vehicle can handle,” he said.
Steadman also suggests that when a rider encounters a situation that makes them feel uncomfortable or uneasy, they should let somebody with more experience tackle the problem.
“When people are tense and nervous, they tend to not react right and get into trouble,” he said. “Don’t let your ego come into play.”
Side-by-side off-road vehicles often lull riders into a feeling of security more than an ATV because they have a steering wheel and feel and look more like a traditional vehicle. However, side-by-side vehicles can overturn and be dangerous, according to Steadman.
ATVs and other off-highway vehicles used on public lands in Utah are required to display a current registration sticker available from the Division of Motor Vehicles, he said.
Etiquette rules protect the use of trails by all users and following them will help keep trails open to ATV users, Steadman added.
Trail etiquette requires ATV riders to yield to hikers, bikers and horses.
ATV riders that encounter horseback riders are required to stop, turn off their engines, remove their helmets and they should avoid sudden movements.
Riders also need to respect the property they ride on, Steadman said.
“Riders should practice the principle of ‘treadlightly’ and stay on designated trails, keep off single track trails, don’t leave anything behind and leave the area better than you found it,” said Steadman. “Just like you learned in Boy Scouts.”