During the last week of October, the seventh and eighth grade students of North Warren Central School participated in a 4-H ATV Safety program provided by staff from Cornell University Cooperative Extension. The main focus of the sessions was to educate youth
regarding safety practices, sound decision making, and taking responsibility when using an ATV. According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission some 44,000 children under the age of 16 were seriously injured in ATV accidents in 2007 and 150 were killed.
The local safety program was delivered in two sessions. During the first, held in the classroom, students read a Newsweek article about a student their age who received permanent brain damage after crashing an ATV while riding down a paved, residential road at over sixty miles an hour. The article did not say, but based on the severity of the injuries, it is believe the youth was not wearing a helmet. The students were asked what New York state laws the youth would have broken if the accident occurred in their town.
The answers for all classes were fairly accurate according to John Bowe who gave the training session: breaking the speed limit, the helmet law, and finally the ATV was being ridden on a road. The fact that some area communities have designated certain roads at part of official trail systems was also covered, according to Bowe.
Leaving the classroom, students then headed out to the school’s former baseball field where each student could choose to ride one of two ATVs, either a 90cc which is recommended for this age group or a 250 cc which is sized for larger teens. Understanding the two size classes of ATVs are critical for students of this age, according to Bowe, who said that many bigger students (12-14 years) actually create a safety hazard by riding the smaller class ATVs. While the Consumer Product Safety Commission guidelines recommend this size ATV for a youth his age, his physical size at this age prevent him from turning the handle bars fully and compresses the shock absorbers and reduces the ATV’s ability to absorb impact.
Student riders were asked first to perform basic starting and stopping techniques, and then to navigate a short set of cones. The smaller classes were also able to navigate a simulated trail with two ATVs operating at the same time. The importance of keeping a distance between the ATVs and looking through turns or corners to avoid traffic or obstacles was also reviewed.
Those who would like more information about ATV safety for youth can call Cornell Cooperative Extension of Warren County at 623-3291.
Photos: Above, North Warren Central School Students gather for a photo after the ATV program. Back row from left to right: Travis McConnell (on ATV), Jimmy Porter, Phil Cooper, Gabby Needham, Ellie Underwood, Alex Hoffman, Mike Terry, Nick Sapienza, Brandon Prosser, Rikki Wicks Front row left to right: Darren Granger, Matthew Simpson, Nick Monroe (on ATV). Below, 7th grade NWCS Student, Joe Murphy (age 13) demonstrates why a 90cc ATV is not always appropriate for a youth of his size.