(AFNS) — At the first sign of good weather, a persistent rumbling heralds their arrival. They travel in packs, congregating in various parking lots. The appearance of the motorcycle provokes a furry of safety courses required to ride motorcycles on base.
Off the road, the rules are different, but the danger is the same. While all-terrain vehicle safety courses are not required, riders are encouraged to enroll in safety courses provided in the local community, such as those provided by the ATV Safety Institute.
In 2010 the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission reported 317 reported deaths related to ATV accidents, and 115,000 related injuries treated in an emergency room. Since 2008, the U.S. Air Force suffered only four ATV-related deaths and 186 injury incidents.
“Four lives may not seem like a big deal but every Airman and Soldier’s life is important to us,” said Air Force Master Sgt. Richard Sennett, Air Combat Command Air and Space Operations Division motorcycle safety representative. “We want to avoid all incidents if possible, by encouraging riders to enroll in safety courses.”
“ATV safety courses are similar to motorcycle safety courses, but with a few differences,” Sennett said. “They give basic instructions on how to properly and safely operate ATVs and go into detail on stability, riding around wildlife and environmental safety with weather changes.”
To date, 44 states passed ATV safety laws, with each statute tailored to meet the needs of its particular region. Although safety courses are not required in most states, ATV riders are expected to know and adhere to the laws in their area.
According to the CPSC, 211 reported ATV-related deaths have been in Virginia alone since 1982. Virginia’s ATV safety laws include:
• ATVs with an engine larger than 50 cubic centimeters that have been purchased as new on or after July 1, 2006 are required to be titled.
• All ATV riders must wear helmets.
• No one under 16 may operate an ATV. Children between the ages of 12 and 16 may operate ATVs of no more than 90 ccs and children under age 12 may operate ATVs of no more than 70 ccs.
• No passengers are permitted on an ATV at any time, unless the ATV is designed to be operated as such.
“Riders should make sure to follow basic safety tips,” said Sennett. “Riders should make sure to wear proper protective gear such as helmets, long pants and shirts, gloves and protective footwear. ATV riders should never ride alone and never drink and ride.”
While some courses may be offered free through ATV companies, many courses are available at the cost of the rider. The ATV Safety Institute offers courses for ATV owners and anyone thinking about purchasing an ATV.