Riding the Safe Way: County 4-H students learn about ATV safety

Margaret Miltenberger
Special to the News Tribune
4-Hers from throughout the state learned about ATV safety during classes held recently at Jackson's Mill.

JACKSON’S MILL - All-terrain vehicles (ATV) are a common sight in West Virginia. Many West Virginia residents use the vehicles to head into the woods for leaf peeping, hunting and other activities.

Keeping safe while enjoying these outdoor activities is key.

West Virginia is consistently in the top five states in ATV related injuries and deaths.  According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission 2020 annual report of ATV-related deaths and injuries, the state is currently ranked number two in the nation behind Texas for the number of reported fatal incidents and deaths.

WVU Extension Service experts and certified ATV instructors David Snively and Haley Rosson remind people to always keep safety and proper training in mind when using ATVs. Snively is the director of WVU Jackson’s Mill, and Rossen is an assistant professor with the WVU Davis College of Agriculture, Natural Resources and Design.

Mineral County 4-H members participated an ATV Safety Institute RiderCourse with the West Virginia University Extension Service at WVU Jackson’s Mill. They completed on-line course work and an interactive course where they learned everything from proper safety equipment to wear and how to identify the parts of an ATV, to learning riding skills such as stopping and swerving quickly, riding over obstacles, and traversing hills. Pictured is the July Mineral County Jackson’s Mill ATV Safety Class: (front) Jacob Cox, Cole Cook, Grandin Lewis, Cooper cox, Wyatt Royal, Gracie Moncrief, and Audrey Williams, (back) James Williams, Audra Cunningham (instructor), Sabrina Beal (instructor), David Snively (instructor and director of WVU Jackson’s Mill, and Jocilyn DePetro (instructor).

“It’s important to always keep safety in mind. More than 95 percent of ATV crash victims were not wearing a helmet,” says Rossen. “Doing something so simple as wearing a helmet is likely to reduce injuries and save your life.”

“Take care of your passengers. One in three ATV crashes involves a passenger,” says Snively. “First and foremost, if the ATV is not designed for two passengers, then only one person should be riding in the vehicle – no exceptions. Passengers also should take the necessary safety precautions, including wearing a helmet.”

ATVs become more dangerous when children drive adult-sized vehicles, or when more than one passenger rides on vehicles built for a single rider. Children under the age of 16 accounted for the third-highest percentage of off-highway vehicle deaths by age group. Nearly 50 percent these deaths were children under the age of 12.

“Get trained. If you own or ride an ATV, visit ATVSafety.org and take the online e-course,” says Snively. “Learn how to operate the vehicle safely to help reduce the number of injuries and deaths in West Virginia.”

Mineral County 4-H members participated in the ATV Safety Institute RiderCourse at WVU Jackson’s Mill this summer. The interactive course involved learning everything from proper safety equipment to wear and how to identify the parts of an ATV, to learning riding skills such as stopping and swerving quickly, riding over obstacles, and traversing hills.

Members of the June Mineral County Jackson’s Mill ATV Safety Class included Dylan Wilson, Lara Bittinger, Cooper Cox, Delmer Pugh, Sarah Sions, Katie Miltenberger and John Bittinger.

“It was challenging and fun. I learned a lot,” says Delmer Pugh, Fort Ashby.

“We want to bring the course to Mineral County in the spring,” says Cooper Cox, Burlington. “Our 4-H Teen Leader group would like to help host it, if we can find a location.”

“We have a great partnership through a gift and in-kind donations from the Polaris Foundation,” says Rossen. “This has enabled WVU Extension Service to expand ATV safety education throughout the state. More than 12 educators, have received training and are delivering ATV programming at schools, camps and other activities.”

If you would like to help Mineral County 4-H Teen Leaders host a hands-on course this spring contact the WVU Mineral County Extension Service at 304-788-3621 or email mineralcountyextension@mail.wvu.edu.

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