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Take a safety course before operating an off-road vehicle

The state of California has abundant recreational opportunities awaiting residents and visitors alike. One favorite recreational activity is four-wheeling or driving off-roading vehicles.

All motor vehicles that are driven off-road are considered off-highway vehicles (OHVs). Even cars and trucks that are normally driven on highways are considered to be OHVs when driven off-road. Other common types of OHVs include:

  • Sand rails
  • All-terrain vehicles (ATVs)
  • Go-carts
  • Dirt bikes
  • Snowmobiles
  • Golf carts
  • Recreation utility vehicles (RUVs)
  • 4x4s
  • Jeeps

The first design of ATVs was a three-wheeled model. However, the newer versions have four wheels. ATVs are steered with handlebars as motorcycles are.

Because of their small size, ATVs are fun and provide easy transportation over fields and other rough terrain. Unfortunately, untrained, intoxicated or negligent drivers can easily get involved in deadly accidents.

Who needs OHV and ATV safety training?

Anyone who plans to operate an off-road vehicle should receive proper training. Learning the basics about ATV operation and developing safe riding techniques can prevent unnecessary accidents by inexperienced riders.

The Motorcycle Safety Foundation, in conjunction with the Specialty Vehicle Institute of America, are partners with the California Off-Highway Motor Vehicle Recreation division. Together, they offer ATV safety training courses at eight different locations around the state. ATV riding requires the integration of three elements: environmental conditions, the rider's ability and the capability of the ATV. Once enrolled, participants can expect to learn numerous safety measures, including:

  • Starting and stopping
  • Turning quickly and gradually
  • Swerving and making sudden stops
  • Driving up and down hills
  • Avoiding obstacles and maneuvering over them safely

Participants will be taught what types of protective gear they should wear when riding. They will also learn how to conduct pre-ride inspections and be taught how to comply with local laws and be mindful of environmental concerns.

Unfortunately, training and practice does not always prevent accidents, especially when someone else is a fault. If you are injured in a vehicle accident due to another's negligence, you may be able obtain compensation for your medical bills and other losses.

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