|By JANE HOUIN
EARLHAM, Iowa — You may have missed the headlines, but the stories are out there. From 1982 to 2001, 4,541 deaths were associated with all-terrain vehicles (ATVs) according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, and nearly 40 percent of those injuries occurred to children under the age of 18.
That’s why Farm Safety 4 Just Kids (FS4JK) will focus its educational efforts during National Farm Safety and Health Week (Sept. 17-23) on ATV safety. Just as ATV sales are rising, so is the number of injuries and deaths from ATV use.
“If young people are using ATVs, they must have proper training, proper protective equipment, and be able to fully comprehend the machine they are operating,” said Shari Burgus, education director for FS4JK. “No matter what function the ATV is performing, remember that it is only as capable as the operator.”
At its website (www.fs4jk.org), FS4JK has a simple “test” for youth to help determine if they are physically capable of riding an ATV safely. In fact, the ATV Safety Institute stated, “Parents or guardians should not permit youngsters to ride an ATV that is not recommended for their age group. Additionally, while a youth may be of the recommended age to ride a particular size of ATV, not all youngsters have the strength, skill or judgment necessary to operate an ATV.”
Research indicated that major risk factors leading to ATV injuries include driver misuse and inappropriate behavior. Additional risk factors include driving at excessive speeds, not wearing protective gear such as helmets, accepting unnecessary risks, accepting passengers and improper supervision or training.
In response, FS4JK has released a new ATV educational packet called Ride Smart!
The packet teaches children the importance of ATV safety and training, and it stresses the significance of wearing protective equipment, riding a properly-sized ATV and not allowing passengers.
Funding for the packet was provided by the seed companies of Syngenta and Monsanto, and the packet includes resources from the National 4-H Council, Great Plains for Agricultural Safety and Health, Penn State and Artic Cat.
“We fully support ATV Safety, especially when it comes to youth riding ATVs,” said Kale Wainer, of Arctic Cat media relations. “The sooner a youth realizes the importance of safe riding techniques; these techniques will stay with them the rest of their life. Our partnership with FS4JK should help further their riding skills in various conditions.”
FS4JK is also holding a public service announcement (PSA) contest for all FS4JK chapter volunteers ages 10-18. Youth are asked to write and record their own PSA about ATV safety. Three winners will receive ATV safety prize packages from Arctic Cat.
FS4JK is a non-profit organization that works to promote farm safety for kids through educational programs and the development of learning resources. FS4JK is supported by a chapter network of grassroots volunteers throughout the United States and Canada that conduct educational programs and promote the FS4JK message of safety. Marilyn Adams, spokesperson, president, and founder started the organization in 1987, after her 11-year-old son Keith died in a gravity-flow wagon of shelled corn on the family’s Iowa farm.
For more information, call 800-423-5437 or visit www.fs4jk.org
This farm news was published in the Sept. 20, 2006 issue of Farm World, serving Indiana, Ohio, Illinois, Kentucky, Michigan and Tennessee.