ATV safety is focus of Extension 4-H training

By BONNIE COBLENTZ/MSU EXTENSION SERVICE,

STARKVILLE — All-terrain vehicles are commonly used in Mississippi for entertainment and work, but driving them dangerously is a frequent cause of injuries and death.

June 1-9, 2019, is ATV Safety Week, and the Mississippi State University Extension Service 4-H program is involved in efforts to keep the state’s young people safe on these machines.

According to the Mississippi Department of Health, Mississippians are 3.5 times more likely to die from an ATV accident compared the 2010 national average. ATV injuries send scores of people to the hospital each year, and about a quarter of them are younger than 16.

Mississippi 4-H helps to address this issue by offering training to help the state’s young people use ATVs safely. Free safe-riding classes meet at the Jimmy Bryan 4-H Youth Complex in West Point.

“Lots of kids own or have access to ATVs, but most have never been shown how to properly operate an ATV safely,” said Brad Staton, safety trainer with the MSU Extension 4-H Youth Development Program. “We offer a structured, hands-on ATV training, which studies have shown lowers the risk of injury for young people.”

Classes are offered twice a day from June 3-7 starting at 9 a.m. and 1 p.m. daily. The class lasts about 4 hours and serves young people ages 8 to 18. Parents can attend with their children if they desire.

The Mississippi Department of Health reports that head injuries are the deadliest consequences of ATV accidents, but helmets reduce the severity of these injuries and save lives. In Mississippi, the law requires minors to wear helmets.

Gloves, long pants and long sleeves protect arms and legs from injury by rocks, debris and trees. They also prevent accidental burns from the engine.

Another danger comes when young people ride full-sized ATVs. These vehicles are made in different sizes and weights for adults and children. Follow manufacturer’s recommendations to select the right size, and only carry passengers if the ATV is specifically designed for that purpose.

Staton said it is illegal to drive an ATV on Mississippi roads. To legally ride or operate ATVs on public land, Mississippians without driver’s licenses must earn ATV safety cards.

More information on ATV safety and 4-H ATV Safety Week is available at http://extension.msstate.edu/4-h/4-h-safety-programs/atv-safety.

Call 662-325-3350 to register for a class. All students who complete the ATV Rider Course will receive a free helmet donated by the Brain Injury Institute of Mississippi.