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Tips for protecting yourself from ATV accident injuries

All-terrain vehicles, or ATVs, are used year-round in Alaska for work, recreational activity and transportation. In fact, the state may have one of the highest statistics for per-capita use in the country. Unfortunately, injuries and even fatalities can be common with ATVs, for both children and adults.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), a total of 3,360 ATV fatalities have occurred in the United States from 2004 to 2013. Only 12 percent of drivers and passengers killed were wearing helmets and 39 percent were under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Additionally, according to the Consumer Product Safety Division, 93,700 non-fatal injuries were caused by ATV accidents in 2014.

In response to the risk for serious and fatal accidents, the Alaska Department of Public Safety (DPS) has issued an ATV driver's guide. The guide includes safe riding tips as well as information on protective gear and supplies, potential hazards on the trail, laws and registration, drug and alcohol use, and overall driver responsibility.

The following are the safe riding tips provided by the DPS:

  • Operate your ATV off-road only; It should never be driven on pavement.
  • Always wear a helmet, protective gear and apparel.
  • Don't ride beyond your ability; learn to operate your ATV from an experienced operator.
  • Tell someone where you are going and when you expect to return.
  • Your ATV repair kit should, at the least, include the manufacturer's tool kit.
  • Carry a first aid pack.
  • Carry some snacks and a water supply.
  • Always ride with a buddy.
  • ATVs are designed for one person: the driver.
  • Watch out for thin ice that may be camouflaged by snow and other potential hazards.
  • Use maps and a compass if you are riding in an unfamiliar area. Make a mental note of landmarks that might help you if you get lost.
  • If you are lost at night, do not move around. You will waste valuable fuel that you will need to ride safely in the daylight.
  • Make sure you have enough fuel to get you where you're going and home.
  • Do not drink alcohol or use drugs before operating the ATV

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