West Virginia leads nation in ATV accidents

Riding an ATV can be a fun way to get around in the state of West Virginia, but before you step on the gas, you will need to remember to put on a helmet.

All terrain vehicles are used for work and for play. In the mountain state, they are useful on different surfaces like grass, dirt and gravel. Riding one without proper training can be fatal, though. The number one way to prevent accidents is simple.

“The most important thing is to wear a helmet,” says Doug McDonald, an ATV safety instructor. “Anytime you ride, a helmet can reduce your risk of dying from an ATV accident as much as 75 to 80 percent.”

The WVU Safety and Health Extension hosts an ATV safety awareness course. Program coordinators say 19 people died in ATV crashes last year in West Virginia, which led the nation. Only one of those people was wearing a helmet.

Head, neck, and spine injuries are the most common, especially in children.

“We encourage them not to give in to peer pressure,” said McDonald. “If they’re not comfortable riding on a certain trail, certain area, don’t do it. That gets them into situations where they can have an accident and be seriously injured or even killed.”

This safety course cites most ATV accidents on public paved roads, but West Virginia laws allow that. Many other states do not.

“The ATVs aren’t meant for the roadways, they’re meant for off-roading and they’re meant to go off into the woods and that type of thing so they’re not built for the road,” said Lt. Leroy Forbes of the Granville Police Dept.

Lt. Forbes said people should only ever cross a paved road.

Wearing long sleeves and eye protection can also reduce injuries, and you should always ride at a safe speed on designated trails.

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