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Fatal OHV Accidents Serve As Reminders To Practice Safety

The Arizona Game and Fish Department reminds all off-highway vehicle (OHV) drivers and passengers to wear the proper safety gear and ride responsibly in the wake multiple separate accidents.

Since Thanksgiving, three people have died in accidents on OHVs. The first occurred in Mohave County after an ATV rolled, killing an 11-year-old female passenger and injuring the 12-year-old driver, according to the Mohave County Sheriff's Office.

The second accident claimed the life of a veteran Phoenix Fire captain who rolled the side-by-side he was driving while on an elk hunt south of the Grand Canyon, according to the Coconino County Sheriff's Office. Over the weekend, an 18-year-old Arizona State University student died after his ATV collided with a tree.

"It only takes a split-second for tragedy to strike," said Josh Hurst, AZGFD Off-Highway Vehicle Program coordinator. "The last few weeks have shown us that OHV accidents can happen to anybody at any time and that is why all riders and their passengers should wear the proper safety equipment at all times. Helmets save lives."

Riders and operators are reminded that helmets are required by law for all riders under the age of 18 regardless of the off-highway vehicle type. However, they are strongly recommended for all riders. In addition riders should remember to heed the following:

• Wear a seat belt at all times, if equipped.

• Only carry the number of passengers recommended by the manufacturer for your vehicle. Often many accidents are the result of too many people riding a machine that was designed for fewer passengers.

• Wear riding goggles, a long-sleeved shirt, pants, riding gloves and over-the-ankle boots.

• Never ride alone.

• Be prepared and equipped with a map, a first aid kit, whistle and have basic tools on hand.

• Stay on designated trails.

• Take an OHV safety education course designed to teach off-road motorists how to ride safely and responsibly.

For more information about the Arizona Game and Fish Department's OHV program and safety course options, visit http://www.azgfd.gov/ohv.

Six Items All Riders Need

Another year has passed and if a new off-highway vehicle (OHV) was in the cards this holiday season, the Arizona Game and Fish Department advises you to remember the wear the following equipment.

1. A helmet. Whether riding in a side-by-side utility-type vehicle (UTV), all-terrain vehicle (ATV) or dirt bike, all riders younger than18 years old are legally required to wear a Department of Transportation-approved helmet. Helmets are strongly recommended for all riders older than 18.

2. Eye protection, such as riding goggles, is legally required for all riders if the OHV is not equipped with a windshield.

3. Riding gloves should be worn at all times to protect your hands while riding and enhance your grip while driving.

4. Wear proper clothing, including a long-sleeve shirt, pants and over-the-ankle boots.

5. Register your OHV and purchase an OHV Decal. All vehicles designed primarily for travel on unimproved terrain and weighing less than 1,800 pounds are required to have a $25 OHV decal to operate on public and state lands. License plates and decals are available at any Arizona Motor Vehicle Division location or at http://www.servicearizona.com.

6. Take a safety course. Safety courses teach new and veteran riders the techniques needed to safely operate and ride an OHV, including the importance of shifting their weight, maintaining control of the machine, evasive breaking and maneuvers. For information on where to take a course or to take one online, visit http://www.azgfd.com/Education/OHV.

Always remember to supervise children under 16 years old and check to ensure your child is riding an age-appropriate vehicle. Machines may be too large and powerful for a child to safely operate. Parents are ultimately responsible for their children's safety.

Riders should only carry the number of passengers for which the machine is designed. One of the biggest causes of OHV-related injuries is riding with more than the recommended number of passengers. Proper riding techniques require operators to shift their weight and change position to keep control of the machine. Carrying a passenger can make riding difficult and change how the vehicle responds.

For additional OHV safety information, visit http://www.azgfd.gov/ohv.


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