Since new laws regarding children riding ATVs on public lands were implemented nearly 3 years ago, it is now becoming easier to comply with them while at the Imperial Sand Dune Recreation Area (ISDRA) because of the availability of ATV safety training. And, not a moment too soon! As the opposition pushes to ban ATV use by children under the age of 16, “statistics” fuel their effort. By following the law and instilling good judgment upon our children, we can reduce accidents that sometimes lead to hospital visits. These preventable emergency room visits become statistics used to motivate the ban of kids ATV use!
Parental control and supervision is a vital part of safe child ATV riding. As parents, we literally hold the key to our children’s safety. Every ATV has an ignition key, and when we control the key, we control the use. As a parent or adult supervisor, child ATV riders are under our care and control. Children look to parents and adults to keep them safe, don’t let them down. We are the key to every ride beginning and ending safely, without injury.
California State Law requires that Parents or Guardians maintain an active role in a child’s ATV use.
• Children under the age of 16 must be actively supervised at all times when riding an ATV. A parent or guardian must allow continued use only if you determine that your child has the ability and judgment to operate the ATV safely.
• No person under the age of 14 shall operate an ATV on public lands located in California unless that person holds an appropriate safety certificate and, in addition, is accompanied by and under the direct supervision of a parent or guardian who is also certified.
• Anyone operating an off-highway vehicle must be able to reach and operate all controls necessary to safely operate the vehicle.
• No person under the age of 18 shall operate an ATV on public lands located in California unless he/she has received the safety certification in this state, or another state, or is under the direct supervision of an adult who has the appropriate safety certification in his/her possession.
Presently, law enforcement officers are issuing citations under CVC Section 38504.1 and a judge can order a fine for the adult who fails to provide supervision. After a horrible accident, it is possible for the state to consider a parent to be liable for a child’s ATV accident if they have neglected to comply with the Law.
While we have all heard that “ATVs are not one-size-fits-all,” consider for a moment the ramifications of sending your 12 year old out for a ride on your new 450cc quad. The ATV Safety Institute reports that approximately 90 percent of youth ATV-related injuries occur when a child under the age of 16 is operating an adult-sized ATV. Follow the manufacturer’s recommended age limitations for every ATV.
To help all of us ride smart by following the law, ATV Safety Training is available at the Imperial Sand Dunes! A total of 19 ATV Safety Training Classes will be held by the American Desert Foundation (ADF) in the North Dunes, South Dunes and Superstition Mountain locations throughout the 2010-2011 riding season. The hands-on, half-day ATV Rider Course is conducted by licensed ATV Safety Institute Instructors. It offers students an opportunity to increase their safety knowledge and to practice basic riding skills in a controlled environment under the direct supervision of a licensed instructor. ASA Volunteer Mike Reber recently attended one of the courses and said, “Last Winter, I took my six year-old son to a class and in just a few hours, he earned his certification. The Glamis location couldn’t be more convenient for our family!” ATV manufacturers and the State of California ensure all children under 18 can take this training without a fee, parents and the rest of the family may qualify for free training, as well. For more information, visit http://www.americandesertfoundation.org.
By setting a good example, parents and adults can help keep children safe on ATVs and reduce the statistics used against off-road enthusiasts by opponents of this type of outdoor family recreation.