ATV class gives students necessary training
HIBBING — Safety was on the minds of 20 youths as they prepared for this year’s ATV season.
They prepared for riding by attending the Youth ATV Safety Training course held Saturday at Balkan Community Center.
It was the first youth ATV safety class held in the Hibbing area, said organizer Ed Zakrzewski.
The class was sponsored and run by volunteers from the NorthernTraxx ATV Club and Range Riders ATV Club. It featured guest speakers from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and the Chisholm Police Department.
These classes have been taught throughout the state since 2003 when state legislation changed to require a safety certificate for children ages 12 to 17 to operate an ATV of any size.
Certification also is required for any adult born after July 1, 1987, although those 16 and older have the option to receive safety training online, said Don Bozovsky, DNR conservation officer.
Prior to 2003, children could only operate an ATV up to 90 ccs. Area riders deemed this rule to be dangerous because some young teens are too tall to safely ride a 90 cc machine, said Len Hardy, a volunteer and trail ambassador.
Riders lobbied for a change and worked with the DNR to develop the class in 2003, he said. He estimates 30,000 children have been certified since the requirement went into effect.
Zakrzewski said he felt it was necessary to offer the class locally. “If you tell the kids what they should and shouldn’t do and what the consequences of good and evil are, you might say they’ll be a lot better when they ride in woods or in town or when they ride with their family,” he said. “I think it’s a needed thing.”
Zakrzewski said he was inspired to start the class by reports about children getting hurt in ATV accidents because they lacked proper training, he said. he said. The safety class includes ATV familiarization, operating procedures, safety concerns, rules, regulations and environmental concerns, according to the DNR’s Off-Highway Vehicles Regulations booklet.
The class includes training, a final exam and a riding component. The riding component allows instructors to see the students on their ATVs and check to make sure they fit their machines, Hardy said.
The riding course includes a ramp, obstacles, turns and stop signs. Students learn hand signals, and instructors watch as they make turns to ensure they have control over the machine, he said. The component also allows the students to get to know their machines in situations they’ll encounter while riding.
ATV’s have a high center of gravity and are “more likely to roll over than skid in turns and on hillsides,” according to the Off-Highway Vehicles Regulation’s booklet. The young riders need to learn how to adjust their bodies on the machine while riding on turns and hills so they don’t roll the machine, Hardy said.
Rollovers are the No. 1 safety concern for ATV riders of all ages. Since the certification requirement went into effect in 2003, accidents among youth riders have gone way down, Hardy said.
Accidents are now occurring more often among riders 45 to 65 who have machines with powerful drive trains that can roll after accelerating rapidly when given too much juice, he added.
NorthernTraxx ATV Club and Range Riders ATV Club plan to offer another Youth ATV Safety Training course at the St. Louis County Fairgrounds in Chisholm this August. A date has not yet been set. For more information, contact Ed Zakrzewski at 254-4767.