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DNR: Be safe on your ATV

Too often, ATV riders don't understand the safety rules and regulations said officials from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR). The results can be tragic.

Seventeen people, ranging in age from 13-94, died riding all-terrain vehicles (ATV) in Minnesota last year. Another 280 were injured.

"Riding ATVs can be an enjoyable form of outdoor recreation when done properly," said Capt. Mike Hammer, DNR Enforcement Education Program coordinator. "To reduce accident risk, riders should reduce speed, abide by current regulations, and take a safety training course."

Anyone born after July 1, 1987, and who is 16 years of age or older who wants to operate an ATV on public lands in Minnesota, must successfully complete the independent study ATV Safety Training CD. Persons ages 12-15 must complete the ATV Safety Training CD and attend an ATV Safety Class before riding on public lands. Youth/Adult ATV Training CDs are available by calling 651-296-6157 or toll free 888-646-6367."

Understanding a few simple safety rules and knowledge of the regulations can prevent accidents. Remember:

• 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. However to prevent head injuries, everyone should wear a helmet at all times.

• 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 people 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 400-pound ATV are a mismatch.