Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Why I hate ATVs

Let me start right off by saying that I’m not advocating banning ATVs. I don’t like the things, at least as recreational vehicles, but I’m not big on advocating bans for things I don’t like.

But they damned sure need to be taken seriously as a dangerous toy.

My brother wrecked an ATV back when I was a sophomore in high school and he was a wild man of 26. Rode it off a 15 foot cliff one night. He managed to push the machine off of himself before he landed with it on top of him and by luck he landed between a couple of boulders that would have broken him like a match stick.

He could well have been killed or massively injured. As it was, he got away with wrenching his knee, biting a hole through his tongue and turning into a full-body bruise. A couple of days in bed and he was back up and at ’em.

Not everybody is so lucky.

And it’s not just the ATV riders themselves at risk. They come up on horses and spook them, putting horsemen in the dangerous position of dealing with a spooked horse and fast-moving machines.

That’s saying nothing of the damage they do to trails.

An ATV is a great farm and ranch tool, useful to hunters packing out their game and, I’m sure, a blast to ride fast and free in the woods. All those things have their place.

I’m not opposed to risky activities — far from it. But I know that you don’t just climb on a hot horse and ride with no training. It’s too easy to climb on an ATV and go, quickly exceeding your capabilities and the machine’s and get yourself into deadly trouble, like my brother did years ago.

His wreck and a few close encounters in the woods have built a visceral dislike of those machines in me. I don’t want to knock anybody else’s fun, but I don’t want them anywhere around me — and I hope anybody who climbs on one takes the time to learn how to handle it — and to learn the courtesy to stay away from the horses.

Jim Cornelius, Editor


  1. Your timing on this blog entry is off given Steven Connelly's accident. Put yourself in his parents shoes. On one hand the Nugget is trying to do something positive to help him and his family...this just hurts. Also, I feel like you're lumping all ATV operator's into a careless operator/daredevil category, and like many things in life, that simply ain't true.

    I don't have an ATV, never operated one, but I do see there value for work and fun and others right to use them as the law allows, where the law allows.

    This blog entry just plain rubbed me the wrong way.

  2. Spotted some info at the sheriff's office on a new program instituted this year for mandatory ATV safety training. It's designed to combat what is cited as a nationwide growing number of deaths and injuries associated with ATV use.

    It's being phased in over a period of five years by age group, like the Oregon Mandatory Boater Program.

    The first age group is riders 15 and under; next year the age requirement goes to 30 and under.

    Certification is available online at www.rideatvoregon.org.

    Like hunter safety courses and boater education, training won't prevent all accidents, but if those two programs are an indication, it should reduce them.

    Jim Cornelius, Editor