This year’s theme for National Farm Safety and Health Week was: “ATV’s- Work Smart, Ride Safe,” which seems to be an appropriate theme since, as Karen Funkenbusch, University of Missouri’s Safety Specialist, described ATV accidents are more common than not. She cites this harrowing number:  “In the U.S. about 40,000 children under the age of 16 are treated in emergency departments for ATV-related injuries each year.” Also, “according to the Consumer Products Safety Commission 2008 Annual Report for ATV-Related Deaths and injuries: Over 135,000 were injured, 28 percent under the age of 16; and 410 people were killed, 18 percent under the age of 16,” says Karen. With statistics like this, practicing ATV safety is imperative.
Uneven terrain or unforeseen obstacles can easily cause an ATV to roll over. In addition, passengers can alter the weight distribution on an ATV and make them even more likely to become unstable and roll over. In the event of a roll over, it would be practically impossible for the operator to lift an 800 pound machine off of their body.” ATV’s need to be treated in the same regards as any other type of vehicle. They are, as Karen put’s it, “not child’s play.”
Jesse Bocksnick, County Extension Agent for Sebastian County 4-H in Arkansas, explained that “ATV safety is a very important issue because it seems that every year more and more kids and adults are injured on ATV’s.” Like Karen, he believes that “people just don’t realize how powerful these machines are or how much damage they can do.” He advised that education is the best solution. He stated that, “if there is one thing that can help, it is getting the right size machine and get some basic knowledge of how they handle.” Jesse advised that ATV-related accident’s are not something to take lightly: “Like mom always says, ‘it is fun until someone gets hurt,’ only with ATV’s it can be life or death.”
Both Karen and Jesse cited that “inadequate operator experience,” as one of the leading causes of ATV accident’s. Karen, also cited that “driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, operating the ATV at excessive speeds, and carrying passengers” are other reasons for ATV accident’s. Ultimately, inexperience and youth, with ATV use is a potentially deadly combination and the best way to avoid it, says Karen, is through “specialized training.”
Jesse explained, “A great solution for experienced and inexperienced riders is to contact your local extension office and ask about the 4-H ATV safety program.” Rider Safety Courses are also offered locally across the nation. The ATV Safety Institute ( lists local Safety Courses and even offers an ATV Safety E-Course.
In addition to enrolling in a Safety Course, below are some additional tips for ATV safety from Karen Funkenbusch.

ATV Safety Laws in Missouri from
•    All riders (passengers and operator) under 18 must wear a helmet at all times.
•    All ATV’s must be titled and registered; registration renewal is once every three years.
•    No one under 16 may register an ATV.
•    ATV use on highways is prohibited, except for agricultural or industrial purposes.
•    No one under 16 may operate an ATV unless on a parent’s land or accompanied by a parent.
•    Passengers may not be carried except for agricultural purposes and except for ATV’s designed to carry more than one person.



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