Teen’s recent death is harsh reminder that ATVs can be fatal

Tuesday, July 14th, 2009 at 6:05 am

(From MN DNR)

The recent death of a 19-year-old woman is a reminder to both adult and youth all-terrain vehicle (ATV) operators to apply “safety first” when operating their machines, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR).

Kayla Lien, 19, and Macy McCormick, 18, both of Foley, were riding an ATV in a housing development near Duelm and east of St. Cloud, on July 2, when the ATV left the road and struck a tree. Neither was wearing a helmet. Neither had completed ATV safety training.

McCormick, the driver of the ATV, was treated for non-threatening injuries. Lien, the passenger, died. She was the sixth Minnesotan and second teenager to die in an ATV incident this year.

Capt. Mike Hammer, DNR Education Program coordinator, said many fatalities could be avoided if people followed safety guidelines and took advantage of ATV safety training classes.
“Operators require special knowledge and training to be able to use an ATV safety,” Hammer said. “ATV safety training is important for everyone, regardless of age.”

Anyone who wants to operate an ATV on public lands in Minnesota and is16 or older and born after July 1, 1987, must successfully complete the independent study ATV Safety Training CD.

Those ages 12-15 must complete the ATV Safety Training CD and attend an ATV Safety Class before riding on public lands. Request a Youth/Adult ATV Training CD by calling 651-296-6157 or toll free 888-646-6367.

The DNR provides guidelines for reducing the risks involved with ATVs:

* Do not drive ATVs with a passenger or ride on one as a passenger.
* Do not drive ATVs on paved roads. They are unstable on paved roads because the big, low- pressure tires can cause the machine to flip.
* ATVs are not toys and can be hazardous to operate. Supervise your youngster’s operation of the ATV at all times.
* ATV operators less than 18 years old must wear an approved safety helmet, except when operating on private property. To prevent head injuries, everyone should wear a helmet.
* An ATV handles differently from other vehicles. Even routine maneuvers such as turning and driving on hills and over obstacles, can lead to serious injury if you fail to take proper precautions. With preparation and practice, operators can safely develop and expand their riding skills.

* Youth need to “fit” the machine. A 60- to- 120 pound youth and a 600-pound ATV are a  mismatch.
* The 2008-2009 Off-Highway Vehicle Regulation booklet is available online.

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