After rise in OHV deaths, official wants safety education

Sep 21, 2012, 7:31 AM | Updated: 7:31 am

PHOENIX — A sharp increase in fatal off-highway vehicle accidents in 2011 has a state official urging riders to take hands-on safety courses and learn the rules.

Those steps are especially important heading into fall, when riders take advantage of cooler temperatures and hunting seasons kick off, said Reuben Gonzalez, a public information officer and law enforcement specialist with the Arizona Game and Fish Department.

“We’re trying to get the public to understand that with the increased number of riders there is also an increased number of inexperienced riders and those are the ones that are probably getting injured and in some cases killed,” he said.

Arizona had 29 OHV-riding fatalities in 2011, up from eight in 2010, according to Arizona Department of Health Services statistics. OHV accidents also resulted in 1,611 emergency room visits and 409 hospitalizations in 2011.

Gonzalez said officials found that the majority of those involved in OHV accidents were under 18, weren’t wearing helmets or other proper equipment or had little to no experience.

“It’s like a 15-year-old getting behind the wheel of a car,” Gonzalez said. “Without proper training, something bad is bound to happen.”

Game and Fish offers an online OHV safety certification course for $29.50 and, through its website, offers a directory of hands-on safety courses around the state.

Thomas Sanio, an instructor with the ATV Safety Institute, which offers hands-on training, said too often young people are allowed to ride without supervision or an understanding of how to ride safely.

“You put a rider who is too young or not mature enough on a machine that’s not set up for them, it’s a recipe for disaster,” he said.

Marge Dwyer, who administers Arizona State Parks’ OHV Ambassadors program, said a lot of people consider riding OHVs “just a sport” and fail to learn rules, regulations and safe-riding techniques.

“People forget that these vehicles are not enclosed,” she said. “They don’t understand the tipping ratio and put as many people on one vehicle as they possibly can.”

OHV Ambassadors take the instruction out to riders, monitoring public lands in groups of two or more and educating OHV users as appropriate.

Arizona doesn’t require OHV operators to take a safety education class, but Gonzalez said he’d like to see that change.

“Having someone, especially someone under the age of 18, go through a course like this would better prepare them,” he said.

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Pass it along to the KTAR News team here.

Arizona News

(KTAR News Photo/Jeremy Schnell)...
Griselda Zetino

Empty seats: Chronic absenteeism spikes in Arizona schools in recent years

Chronic absenteeism is a problem in Arizona. The issue, defined as missing 10% of the school year, skyrocketed during the COVID-19 pandemic.
5 hours ago
(Twitter Photo/Valley Metro)...
Marcia Hammond

Valley Metro extends light rail hours to 2 a.m. for Super Bowl weekend

Light rail riders in metro Phoenix will be able to get around into the wee hours Super Bowl weekend when extended service begins.
5 hours ago
(Facebook Photo/Cirque du Soleil)...

Cirque du Soleil returning to Phoenix in September with ‘Corteo’

The popular hybrid theatrics of Cirque du Soleil will return to Phoenix later this year with the colorful production “Corteo."
5 hours ago
(Jurassic Quest Photo)...

Dinosaurs roar into Mesa with Jurassic Quest exhibit at Bell Bank Park

Jurassic Quest, an interactive dinosaur experience, is scheduled to make a limited run in Mesa this month.
5 hours ago
(Facebook Photo/Arizona Humane Society)...

Arizona Humane Society waiving adoption fees for dogs 6 months and older

The Arizona Humane Society is temporarily waiving adoption fees through the weekend for dogs 6 months and older.
1 day ago
(Facebook Photo/WM Phoenix Open)...

WM Phoenix Open gives back to local charities annually

KTAR's Community Spotlight this month focuses on the WM Phoenix Open and the work done to give back to charities.
1 day ago

Sponsored Articles

(Pexels Photo)...

Sports gambling can be fun for adults, but it’s a dangerous game for children

While adults may find that sports gambling is a way to enhance the experience with more than just fandom on the line, it can be a dangerous proposition if children get involved in the activity.
(Desert Institute for Spine Care photo)...

Why DISC is world renowned for back and neck pain treatments

Fifty percent of Americans and 90% of people at least 50 years old have some level of degenerative disc disease.
(Photo via MLB's Arizona Fall League / Twitter)...
Arizona Fall League

Top prospects to watch at this year’s Arizona Fall League

One of the most exciting elements of the MLB offseason is the Arizona Fall League, which began its 30th season Monday.
After rise in OHV deaths, official wants safety education