Extension Focuses on ATV Safety in Nebraska

Extension Focuses on ATV Safety in Nebraska

October 3, 2008

All Terrain Vehicle (ATV) safety is a paramount issue in Nebraska and UNL Extension is taking action to address it.

Bob Meduna and Dave Varner, UNL extension educators based in Lincoln and Fremont, respectively, are spearheading the new Nebraska 4-H ATV RiderCourse training program.

Local Training

UNL Extension wants to teach ATV safety to more than 500 youth and adults through RiderCourse. To request a training session, contact Extension Educators Bob Meduna in Lincoln at (402)472-9582 or Dave Varner in Fremont at (402) 727-2775.

In recent years ATV accidents have been the leading cause of Nebraska agricultural fatalities, Meduna said. In Nebraska from 2001 through 2007, 30 people died from ag-related ATV accidents. From 2004 through 2007, one-third or more of the total ag fatalities involved ATVs, with as many as 67% involving youth under age 21.

Nationally more than 7 million ATVs are used for farm and ranch chores and for recreation on acreages; Dodge County alone has hundreds of acreages and lake properties, Varner said. Three youth have lost their lives in ATV accidents in the past four years in Dodge and adjacent counties, he added.

Children's size, maturity and skill level should be considered before allowing them to operate an ATV and even then it should be a smaller vehicle, Meduna said.

For example, children ages 12-15 should not operate an ATV with an engine size larger than 90 cubic centimeters.

ATV injuries can include bumps, bruises, broken bones and severe leg burns. To avoid injury and death, ATV operators should wear proper attire, which includes high-top shoes or boots, long pants, gloves, goggles or face shield and most important, a proper-fitting helmet.

In addition, operators should know the rules of the road: the ATV operators should be the only person on the vehicle and should drive appropriately for the terrain and conditions. ATVs should not be driven at all on pavement, although they can legally be operated on public roads if they are used for farming or ranching activities.

Extension has received a grant from the National 4-H Council, in conjunction with the ATV Safety Institute and local dealers, to train people to provide ATV safety training. Thirteen extension staff and volunteers now are trained to teach the ATV RiderCourse to interested community members. Extension's goal is to teach ATV safety to more than 500 youth and adults.

"Through implementation of this statewide program, we hope to provide the educational components needed to develop critical thinking skills and good decision-making skills, resulting in a change in ATV-related behaviors that will reduce the number of ATV-related injuries and deaths in Nebraska," Meduna said.

Participants can use their own ATV, but if they don't have one of the appropriate size, they can make specific arrangements or request an ATV of the appropriate size be made available at the training site, although instructors cannot guarantee equipment availability. Participants must bring a DOT-approved motorcycle helmet, goggles or face shield, high-top shoes or boots, gloves, long pants, and long-sleeve shirt or jacket.

To request a training session, contact Meduna at (402) 472-9582 or Varner at (402) 727-2775.

Cheryl Alberts
IANR News Release