Summer weather brings people out to explore the backcountry, and Alberta Health Services (AHS) reminds Albertans to make all-terrain vehicle (ATV) safety a priority this week and every week.
ATVs pose significant risk to all users and particularly children under 16 years of age, who likely do not have the strength, skills or judgment needed to operate an ATV.
Over a one-year period ending April 1, 2019, 78 children were seen in Alberta’s two pediatric emergency departments due to ATV-related injuries; 31 required hospital admission and one died.
To protect children under 16 years of age, parents and caregivers are advised to ensure children do not drive or ride on an ATV. This includes ATVs marketed as ‘child-sized.’
Albertans 16 years of age and older are urged to take the following precautions to ensure their ATV excursions are as safe as possible:
- · Get trained: Before you hit the trails, get formal hands-on training from a recognized/trained ATV instructor. Don’t be shy about refreshing your training seasonally.
- Wear the gear: Always wear a helmet. CSA-compliant helmets must be worn by ATV users when riding on public land but a helmet worn every ride can save your life. From 2002 to 2013, 41 per cent of ATV-rider deaths in Alberta were due to head injuries. In 77 per cent of these head injury deaths, the ATV riders were not wearing a helmet. In addition to a helmet, always wear a jacket, long pants, goggles, boots and gloves.
- Look first: Be sure you’re aware of the weather forecast, fire outlook/potential, and any hazards (geographical, animal or human) or risks that the trail(s) could pose. Ensure your ATV is equipped with an appropriate head lamp.
- Buckle up: Be sure you’re fastened in properly and that all gear and equipment (including your ATV restraints) are in proper working condition before you hit the trails.
- Drive sober: Don’t drink or do drugs before or while operating an ATV; 55 per cent of those who died in ATV crashes between 2002 and 2013 tested positive for alcohol.
- Seek help: Before you head out on the trail, let others know where you’re going and when they should expect you back. This helps your loved ones know when to call for help if you’ve been gone too long. Take a cellphone or working radio with you, as well as a first-aid kit. Find the ATV Safety Toolkit here: https://www.albertahealthservices.ca/in/prev/Page15340.aspx