“Helmets save lives.”
That was one of the many lessons taught at ATV Ride Safe Oklahoma, an introductory safety presentation at St. Mary’s Catholic School on Tuesday.
Ken Gray, a PE teacher at St. Mary’s, said the goal of the safety program was “to get kids to learn the safety requirements of riding four-wheelers.” The best minimum age for a child to ride an ATV is 10 years old, according to Gray.
“There is not much skill and not much balance involved just to hop on an ATV,” Gray said. “A 6-year-old who might not be able to ride a bike can hop on a four-wheeler. I compare it to an amusement ride. Kids can just hop on and not understand you can get hurt.”
Gray emphasized the importance of learning proper safety when riding an ATV, which was the main reason for the presentation.
Mike Klumpp, ATV Safety Coordinator and certified ATV safety instructor from ATV Ride Safe Oklahoma, was the speaker for the safety instruction.
“Primarily, make sure that kids are not riding ATV’s without supervision from mom and dad,” Klumpp said. “And get the proper training.”
“Only one person — the operator — should be on the ATV,” Klumpop said.
Klumpp said to wear the proper gear, including helmets, eye protection, long sleeve shirts, protective pants, gloves and over-the-ankle boots (no flip flops).
“Helmets save lives,” he emphasized. The average life of a helmet is about 5-7 years, he said, provided it has been taken care of and not left out in the heat. Do not use a helmet that has been in a crash, Klumpp added. Overall, the proper equipment is not that expensive, he said.
Klumpp also said to stay off major roads. “Sixty percent of all deaths on ATV’s are on major roads or highways.”
The ATV is manufactured for off-road riding, partly because the tires are not made for regular roads.
Klumpp also told students to always inspect a four-wheeler before riding it, checking to make sure everything is in proper working order.
Making sure that an ATV is the right size for the rider is also important, Klumpp said. He demonstrated this concept by having one student, Makenna Puccino, hop on a vehicle that was too big for her. Puccino learned the lesson very quickly.
“You have to get an ATV that fits you,” she said, adding that the instruction was fun.