All About ATVing

All-terrain vehicles (ATV) have origins in the uppermost regions of Japan. The Japanese encountered difficulties in navigating through the rugged roads of the mountainous terrain, especially when the farmland became muddy after the early rainy months. The original ATV had three wheels, a far less expensive option than the larger farm vehicles available to them at the time. In addition, the Japanese observed its productivity in the fields, a feature that would cause ATV manufacturers to market the design in the United States.

The ATV arrived on the shores of the United States during the 1970s. Honda introduced the ATC90, the counterpart to the motorcycle version called the US90. Honda marketed the ATV90 as a recreational vehicle; however, it soon became popular among the working class due to its versatility. The ATV was an affordable, versatile, and durable piece of equipment that outperformed other heavy farm equipment, such as tractors. As a result, engineers began working on modifications that would further propel the success of the ATV in the United States. People started to use ATVs in off-road racing that mirrored motocross events during the 1980s. Today, people ride ATVs on dirt bike trails, farms, construction sites, and in wooded areas.

Selecting Your ATV

ATVs provide a sense of excitement for riders, which has contributed to their increase in popularity. In fact, many families have considered riding ATVs on the weekend with their kids. Unfortunately, this can cause serious injury if the family has not received extensive training on how to operate an all-terrain vehicle. Beginners should always ride with an experienced ATV operator before trailing off-road down a steep slope. After riding with a competent ATV operator, an individual can start to explore their options in purchasing or renting their own ATV.

Beginners should not purchase brand new machines. As beginners start to become more familiar with the sport, they will network with other enthusiasts who own different models. This may cause them to pursue buying other models in an effort to upgrade their status within the ATV community. After selecting the desired ATV, beginners should take a safety course to avoid injury and even death. In addition, a safety course will help prevent the beginner from damaging the vehicle on rough terrain. Never forget to read the owner's manual, because each ATV model has different features that may look foreign to other operators.

Before You Ride

Riders love the thrill they experience while riding their ATVs, including the adrenaline rush that occurs knowing that danger waits around every corner. Riders should not take this danger lightly, because all-terrain vehicles have a reputation for causing serious injury. ATV manufacturers have exercised precaution in preventing accidents from happening in the future. For instance, ATV companies removed the three-wheeled model after discovering a higher rate of accidents in comparison to the four-wheel all-terrain vehicle. In addition, ATV advocates formed the All-Terrain Vehicle Safety Institute (ASI) in 1988. Despite these efforts, the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) reported an estimated one hundred thirty six thousand injuries in 2004 alone.

To combat further deaths and injuries, ATV experts continually recommend newcomers to take a safety course. Beginners should consider enrolling into a certified safety course, even though no federal or state regulations mandate it. The ATV Safety Institute (ASI) offers these safety courses that help educate riders about the importance of exercising precaution while operating their all-terrain vehicles. In addition, numerous ATV manufacturers offer free safety courses under the guidance of certified instructors. Certified ATV instructors will guide newcomers on all of the operating basics in a controlled environment. They will teach beginners how to safely turn on the equipment, start and stop, and smoothly maneuver around obstacles on a closed course. Each lesson becomes more of a challenge, which increases the newcomer's competency before completing the course.

Choosing a Place to Ride

All-terrain vehicles (ATVs) have encountered criticism from many facets of society. Many of these controversies dealt with public safety, especially in reference to the three-wheeled all-terrain vehicle. Even the improved four-wheeled ATV carries certain risks. Others have voiced their concerns regarding the age limits of riders. Many U.S. states have introduced laws that forbid minors under the age of sixteen from operating all-terrain vehicles. One of the most widely debated issues involves whether the state should designate areas for riders to operate their ATVs. Some ATV operators disregard existing laws that forbid the operation of all-terrain vehicles on private property. To avoid getting in trouble with the law, responsible ATV operators should contact their local jurisdiction to find out the appropriate places to ride. As with any other motorized vehicle, ATV operators should refrain from consuming drugs and alcohol.

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