Binghamton, NY (WBNG Binghamton) Local dealers are urging caution when riding all terrain vehicles in the wake of several serious or even deadly crashes during the past few months.
Riding an ATV is most typically a recreational sport saved for private property, where safety rules aren't always followed.
It's the thrill of the ride that gets thousands of people out on ATVs every year. But hundreds are killed during the same period because they don't follow a few simple rules.
"Honestly unless they're racing, nobody's taking it that seriously," said Jason Labelle, service manager at Binghamton Honda. "You might see people buying helmets, sometimes they're not even full face helmets but half helmets."
There were 327 ATV-related deaths across the country in 2011, and more than 100,000 ATV-related injuries, according to a report released by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. Nearly 29,000 of those injured were children younger than 16.
Binghamton Honda sells and repairs all-terrain vehicles and employees say there's a number of ways to make sure a rider doesn't put themselves in danger.
Warning signs say to always wear an approved helmet and to never drive on public roads. Children between the ages of 10 to 15 are permitted to ride only with adult supervision. And children younger than 10 are prohibited from riding.
"The biggest thing lately we've been dealing with," Labelle said, "Is people that want to buy larger ATVs for young people under the age of 16. Any of these larger ATV's here you have to be 16 or older to ride."
Labelle said replacing bald tires and checking tire pressure is one of the most common care issues neglected by owners. The tread on tires should be at least a quarter inch thick to prevent the vehicle from losing control.
"You're more exposed on an ATV," Labelle said, "Especially in the woods where it's a lot of tight trails, trees."
If a rider thinks he or she isn't ready to hit the trails, more safety tips can be found online.
"There's all sorts of training videos online," Labelle said, "Just to give you tips, you know. And usually if someone likes going out riding, they'll probably like watching people riding and listening to advice."