Alberta Health Services (AHS) is urging Albertans to make all-terrain vehicle (ATV) safety a priority this long weekend and throughout the summer.
AHS says that the Alberta health care system and especially intensive care units are under stress due to COVID-19, and ATV accidents resulting in hospitalization will only amplify that stress.
Between 2002 and 2019 there have been an average of 4,840 ATV-related emergency department visits and 581 ATV-related hospital admissions each year in Alberta.
ATVs pose significant risk in particular to children under 16 years of age who likely don’t have the strength, skills or judgment needed to operate an ATV.
AHS says that over the past 12 months, nearly 120 children were seen in Alberta’s two pediatric emergency departments due to ATV-related injuries. 51 one of those children required hospital admission.
Some safety precautions recommended by AHS include:
Only ride over the age of 16
Parents and caregivers are advised to ensure children under the age of 16 do not drive or ride on an ATV, this includes ATVs marketed as child-sized.
Before you hit the trails, get formal training from a recognized/trained ATV instructor. Don’t be shy about refreshing your training seasonally. Training can also include familiarizing yourself with the locations and trails.
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 2019, two of five ATV-rider deaths in Alberta were caused by head injuries.
In 58 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.
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.
Be sure you’re fastened in properly and all gear and equipment (including your ATV restraints) are in proper working condition before you hit the trails.
Don’t use alcohol, cannabis or other drugs before or while operating an ATV; three out of every five people who died in ATV crashes between 2002 and 2019 tested positive for alcohol.
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.