Three Tips To Keep You Safe On Your ATV This Summer

Spending your summer behind the wheel of an all-terrain vehicle, surrounded by family and friends, is sure to create lasting memories. But, you should never let your quest for fun get in the way of staying safe during this activity. According to data published in the Journal of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons in 2011, more than 150,000 people were injured in 2007 riding ATVs. Fatality statistics are even more sobering -- more than one-fourth of those killed in ATV accidents are children. Don't let yourself or someone around you be a statistic. By focusing on a number of specific safety rules, you can ensure your off-roading adventures are only positive.

Don't Ride Till You're Drowsy

It can be tempting to push yourself to spend much of the day and evening on your ATV, especially if you're having a good time. However, your skills and reaction time can decline when you begin to get fatigued behind the wheel. Just as it's best to avoid driving your car while you're drowsy, you should park your ATV when you're beginning to get tired. Taking a break to rest and even eating a meal to re-energize yourself can all be viable ways to recharge yourself before you hit the trail again. In general, it's best to avoid consuming caffeine as a way to stay alert, as you can feel extra tired when its effects wear off.

Be Serious About Safety Gear

Even if you always don your helmet before you hop on your ATV, you might occasionally find yourself not bothering to wear the other necessary safety gear -- especially if you tell yourself that you're just going for an easy ride. Make a pledge to never turn the key on your ride unless you're wearing everything you should. At minimum, this list should include not just your helmet, but also eye protection, gloves, wrist guards and safety boots. Don't be afraid to invest in additional safety gear, such as knee pads, elbow pads and a protective vest, which will keep you internal organs safe in the event of a crash.

Scout Out Your Routes

While it might feel enticing to explore new areas on your ATV, it's best to always devote some time to learning about the route before you set off. Online maps, ATV message boards and discussions with other riders can alert you to the nature of the trail and the obstacles you can expect to encounter. Doing so helps you avoid the risk, for example, of traveling too quickly for the conditions and coming up on a drastic elevation change that you didn't expect.