Keeping kids safe around ATVs

WTAJ Special Reports

PATTON, CAMBRIA COUNTY, Pa. (WTAJ) — Every year, about 650 people are killed  and 100,000 are hurt while driving or riding an ATV, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission. The CPSC says 44 percent of the children who die are younger than 12 years old.

Here are some of the things you need to do to protect your own kids.

WTAJ recently caught up with some kids taking an ATV safety training course at the Rock Run Recreation Area in Patton, Cambria County.

Pennsylvania law requires kids eight to 15 to take a four hour course and earn a certificate, before riding on lands other than their parents’ or guardians property.

“We get a variety of skill levels here, so it makes it a little bit of a challenge to teach them. Some of the kids, as you can see as you go through the course, they’ve ridden quite a bit and they have a pretty good handle on what they’re doing and then some other kids here, this is their first time ever on a machine,” says Rock Run Board Member Gary Haluska.

Safety Course Participant Charles Blake says, “I really didn’t feel comfortable driving them, but I think this is definitely going to help me.”

It’s important to size the machine to the child, and increase it as child gets bigger. Younger riders, those eight and nine are restricted to an engine size of 70 cc’s or less.

Haluska says, “It could be catastrophic,  if you put a very small kid on a very large machine, that weighs seven or 800 pounds, there’s just no way they control it.”

For protection, it’s also recommended that kids wear the right gear–long sleeves and pants, boots, gloves, and goggles. Most importantly, state law requires  a helmet.
Park Manager Mike Kutruff says, “Anytime we see anybody without a helmet, we’re stopping them and making them put their helmets on.”

The course teaches kids the basics such as — how to steer, how to transfer their weight and keep their balance,  

“When you’re going up a hill, you have to lean forward, when you’re going down a hill you have to lean back, Charles explains.

And he adds that, not only did he and the other kids learn a lot, the course was really fun.

Rock Run offers the ATV safety course at least once a year.

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