Third ATV-user death in Wisconsin signals need for safety focusTwo adults, one child die in three incidents since April; safety classes open.
A Jefferson County man became Wisconsin’s third all-terrain vehicle fatality case in about one month when he died Sunday from injuries suffered when he lost control of the ATV he was operating on private land.
The Department of Natural Resources’ Bureau of Law Enforcement and Jefferson County officials are investigating the May 12 incident which occurred about 4:15 p.m. on Saturday. An adult and a child were the victims in the two previous fatal ATV incidents in Lafayette and Calumet counties on April 8 and 9.
ATV safety administrator Gary Eddy, also a conservation warden, says the all-terrain vehicle is a popular choice among all ages because it can be fun but also a helpful work tool that requires safety skills.
Safety class required for some
“A great start to responsible ATV riding is to sign up for a safety class,” Eddy says.
If you are at least 12 and born on or after Jan. 1, 1988, you must have completed an ATV safety certification course to operate an ATV on public riding areas - including trails, frozen waters, routes, permitted county and/or forest lands and more. You must carry your safety certification card and display it to law enforcement officers when requested. Utility Terrain Vehicle (UTV) operators must also complete an ATV safety certification course if they are at least 16 and born on or after Jan. 1, 1988.
“However, it is good for anyone who enjoys ATVs and UTV to take the class and receive a safety education completion certificate,” Eddy said.
For children under 12 years of age, the certificate does not become valid until the child reaches 12 for ATVs and 16 for UTVs. Students with special needs must contact the instructor at least two weeks in advance of the course to request special accommodations.
The three fatalities so far this year occurred on private lands. Last year, Wisconsin saw 16 fatalities involving the use of an ATV.
“The three fatalities in such a short time involving adults and a child signals the need to review safety tips,” Eddy said. “As popular and seemingly stable as they look, these can be dangerous if you have little experience and don’t know proper operating techniques.
“People tend to let their guard down while on their own property and take more risks. Children should be supervised wherever they ride and everyone should protect themselves by wearing a helmet. These machines can be fun to operate, but they’re not toys and can easily injure someone or worse.”
Classes are offered in the classroom and online. Costs vary. To learn more about a course near you, visit the DNR website, dnr.wi.gov and search ATV.
Just as with driving any motorized vehicle, Eddy says follows the rules and never drink alcohol or take any drugs while operating. “Consuming alcohol or drugs is a factor in more than 40 percent of all ATV-related fatalities.”
Other tips from Eddy:
Wear a helmet and protective clothing such as boots, gloves, long pants, long-sleeve jacket or shirt.
Travel at a speed that is appropriate for the terrain, as well as how far you can see ahead and your experience level.
Make sure you know the manufacturer’s passenger, weight and other guidelines for operation. Follow these!
ATVs are made for off-road use. Keep your legal road riding to a minimum and use caution. Make sure you know the local rules.