ATV Safety

by Chris Cato

You have to have a license to drive a car, but almost anyone can legally operate an all terrain vehicle. While an ATV Safety Course isn't required, it's highly recommended, but many still don't do it. They just buy their ATV and go out riding, not even thinking about safety.

Jerry Matthews, said, "Most folks take the issue that an ATV has four wheels, therefore, it's more safe and stable, which is very far from the truth. ATV's are very unstable, and you have to maneuver them and maintain control of them while they're turning."

Matthews teaches an ATV safety course. He says, although the course is not required by law, it's a good idea for people of all degrees of riding ability to take it.

"We get everybody from the fact of a person that's never ridden an ATV before, who only has a half an hour on the machine when they get here, to a person that's been riding all their life. What I enjoy about this is everyone is going to pick something up from the course," said Matthews.

Matthews says proper safety equipment is the first thing many learn, including the importance of wearing a helmet and how to sit on the four-wheeler so you don't fall off.

Matthews said, "Not necessarily anything towards a racing issue, but we do get people prepared for things such as turning sharply or quick turns, emergency stops. These are things that are going to occur on the trail without notice."

While many might think that they can't afford the safety class, many of these classes are free.

Even with the thousands of deaths each year caused by ATV accidents, many riders still choose not to wear helmets. Riders we caught up with at the Skoolz Out ATV park in Chireno say, especially for faster pace riding, you definitely need one. And they all agreed that a safety course would be the best thing for the beginner rider.

Bob Holcombe, owner of Skoolz Out said, "A safety course is definitely a plus, especially for somebody who's never ridden. They didn't have them when I started riding 35 years ago, but it's definitely a good thing to take."

Regardless if you choose to follow the recommended safety precautions or not, you still have to follow the law. Texas law says, if you want to ride on public land, you have to take an ATV safety course. Otherwise, you are limited to riding on your private property. You also have to register your ATV with the tax office, wear a helmet and eye protection, and you can not carry any passengers.

The law also says you cannot ride on any streets, except when you're crossing. And then, you have to turn on all your lights. Not following any one of these laws could land you with a $200 fine.

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