ATVs: Help Your Kids (and you) Be Safe and Adventurous
ATVs, or All Terrain Vehicles, have become (and remained) a very popular hobby that spans all ages. 4 wheeling however, has an ever growing death toll (especially among kids), and an enormous injury rate. In my experience, I have found personal negligence and inexperience to be the main factors in causing ATV related accidents among children. I believe that 4 wheeling is an enjoyable and exhilarating pastime that can be quite safe if the driver is knowledgable of his or her own capabilites, as well as the machine that they are controlling.
If you want to purchase an ATV for your child, understand that these machines are rated by cc's (cubic centimeters of the total volume of liquid the engine displaces), and the higher the cc, the bigger the engine. So, the bigger the engine, the heavier the machine will be, and more strength will be required to operate it. My first ATV was a yamaha raptor 80cc, and i was 13. This was a great quad to learn on because it was semi automatic (no clutch but 3 forward gears), and was light enough to manuver (or lift if I had to). Later, when i was 15, and had mastered my first quad, I purchased a Honda 300EX (pictured above) with an after market White Brothers exhaust, and a bigger sprocket on a forward gear. this Quad was a bit intimidating at first, being a full manual transmission, but has proven to be great fun.
**Be aware! DO NOT treat a utility quad like a sports quad. They are sluggish, harder/near impossible to handle at high speeds, and weigh a great deal more than sports quads (which is a rollover disaster waiting to happen).
After you settle on a reasonable quad, the purchase of safety gear is a must. Helmet, goggles, gloves, chest protector, and boots do have a costly price tag, but in the long run, have priceless benefits.Not to mention, these items are mandatory attire if you are planning to take a trip to an ATV/Bike trail park. I would also suggest wearing long jeans whenever you go riding to avoid engine burns and have protection from woods debris.
So, after this is all bought, It's time for some riding. Make sure you have a cell phone, and at least one other person to go 4 wheeling with just in case anything were to happen. It also may be a good idea to always inform a friend or parent that is near and at home whenever you feel like ripping up some dirt. If you are riding in a new area, ride slowly to scout the terrian. I have witnessed quite a few mishaps where someone did not know the land, and found themselves in a dangerous situation. Also, know where your riding buddies are at all times to avoid any accidents. In times of incliment weather (whether it be rain or snow) be extremely aware of how your quad brakes and handles. If you are planning to go to a riding park, be sure that you are 100% comfortable with your quad and your ability to control it.
In an effort to safe at least one more ATV mishap, I have shared with you the information that I have learned over the 5 years I have been an ATV hobbyist. I still am intimidated and awed by the power of the machine under me when I am ripping up the trails, but it is a healthy fear that keeps me (and hopefully more) out of trouble, and out of the hospital.
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