SIDNEY — No snow. No rain. And sunshine everywhere. What does that mean?
It’s time for the ATV’s to come out of the garages for the spring season.
“Over the past few days, I’ve seen persons out riding their ATVs on their won property,” said Shelby County Sheriff John Lenhart during his weekly interview.
He cautioned drivers to only use the ATVs on their own property or on land where they have received permission from the property owner to ride.
“If you ride on someone’s property without permission, they’ll be calling us to say you’re trespassing,” said Lenhart.
In 2019, there were four ATV crashes in the county, which resulted in nine people being injured. In 2018,. there were four crashes and four people hurt. One person was taken by CareFlight from the scene of the crash to the hospital.
“Ohio has the 10th most ATVs in ranking of the (50) states,” said Lenhart. “A total of 81,000 persons were hurt in ATV accidents. More than 350-plus people were killed.
“Safety is a big issue when driving an ATV,” he said.
Lenhart said when purchasing an ATV, a person should consider it’s size, the size of the engine and the weight of the person who will be driving it.
“A helmet is mandatory for safety,” said Lenhart. “Make sure it’s the right size and you wear it properly.”
Other safety equipment which should be used when riding an ATV includes:
• A safety mask
• Eye protections such as goggles. Eyeglasses or regular sunglasses, he said, don’t provide proper protection if something comes flying at you from the grass or dirt. When riding through a woods, it’s easy for a twig to fly up and hit you in the eye or face.
• Make sure the goggles are unscratched so you can see where you’re driving clearly.
• A helmet with ventilation holes so the goggles or mask don’t fog up.
• Heavy boots or heavy shoes to protect your feet. You shouldn’t wear flip-flops when driving or riding on an ATV, he said.
• Long-sleeved shirt and pants to protect your arms and legs.
• Know where you’re allowed to ride.
• Night driving is different than driving an ATV during the day.
• Drivers should stay off the roads and sidewalks at all times.
• Do not allow passengers on the ATV is it’s built for only one person (driver).
• If you’re a first-time ATV driver, get proper training before taking the vehicle out for a spin.
• Talk about safety measures when driving an ATV. Learn what to do — or not to do — if you tip one over and it flips backward.
“Educate yourself if you’re riding on a new trail,” said Lenhart. “The first time you drive it, take it slow to learn about where you’re driving.”
Lenhart said drivers should avoid environmental areas such as a wetland. And be cautious if you’re driving on sand or snow as both make it harder to control the ATV than driving on dry land.
“Don’t dispose of your trash along the side of the road,” said Lenhart, who encouraged people to take the trash with them and throw it away at their residence.
Lenhart said there’s no license requirement for driving an ATV, however he feels the driver should be at least 16 years of age.
Before taking the ATV out of a drive, it should be checked to make sure all the lights and brake lights are working properly, check the oil and fluid levels and always take a tool box with you.”
“Practice safe riding habits,” he said. “You can watch videos to learn where you should sit on an ATV, how you should lean into turns and safety measures so you don’t flip it over.
“Always ride with another person,” he said. “If something happens to you, they can call for help.”
Lenhart said each driver should know how to shift the ATV and how to ride up and down hills.
“If you give it too much gas, you’ll end up flipping it over,” he said. “Don’t put a second person on the ATV if it’s only designed for one person.”
He said no one should be using drugs or drinking alcohol when driving an ATV. And for the person who keeps riding hour after hour, they should be taking a break before fatigue causes them to crash the machine.
“Contact your insurance agent to make sure the ATV is covered on your insurance,” he said.
Lenhart said by following the rules, the ATV driver can have a safe experience while having an afternoon of fun.
The Sidney Daily News conducts a weekly interview to update readers with news from the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office, 555 Gearhart Road, Sidney.