Summer will be here before we know it in Florida! Now that springtime temperatures are (finally) here to stay it seems, recreational vehicle owners throughout the area are coming out in droves to enjoy the sunshine, the fresh air, and the FUN to be had outdoors. ATV owners will be dusting off their equipment and hitting the nearby fields, trails, or even beaches for hours of fun and exploration. However, this fun can come at a high cost if you don’t take the proper precautions with your ATV. Florida ranks third in the U.S. for ATV accidents each year, and sadly, many of the fatalities are those of children and minors. Many times, this is due to lack of equipment and/or safety precautions that could have saved a life, so it’s worth taking time to educate you.
Here are some things you need to know before hitting the trail:
- Age matters. Young children (and even youth) are not mature enough (even if physically large enough) to effectively and responsibly handle a vehicle of such magnitude as an ATV. No different than a motorcycle, or even a small car, an ATV can cause serious injury or death and should be treated with respect. While it might be ok to let your young person practice in a safe environment under close supervision, any driving on or near roadways, on trails with varying terrain, etc. should be handled by an adult.
- Safety first! Drivers AND passengers of all ages should wear a helmet when driving an ATV. While it’s not the “law” for an adult to be wearing head protection, it goes without saying that if you truly want to drive responsibly, a helmet is part of your safety when on an ATV, motorcycle, or similar vehicle. Helmets save lives daily, and it’s not worth taking the risk of going without one. Additionally, failing to make sure minors wear a helmet while under your care and participating in use of an ATV-type vehicle could mean legal troubles for YOU.
- Take it slow. Yes, it’s more fun to blaze the trails at a high speed, but not heeding to the layout of the land and traveling too quickly can have disastrous results. Save the fun of going fast for open fields (as long as it’s safe to do so) and use the wisdom of slowing down and taking your time on trails or when driving in areas you aren’t familiar with. One unexpected muddy area, drop off, or rock in the road could cost you much more than a few seconds of time spent by slowing down. If traveling on public roadways, ATV drivers are subject to the same rules of the road as bicyclists and motorists and going over the speed limit, failing to yield to road signs, etc. could result in charges (or worse, an accident).
We encourage you to get out and have fun this spring and summer, and by using the tips above, you can do so knowing that you are protecting yourself and the ones you care about while enjoying your time outdoors. However, accidents happen, and it’s important to know that when they do, you have backup. Sessums Law Group is here to help you navigate the rough waters of legal matters surrounding an accident. Contact us for help. When the unexpected happens, WE STAND FOR YOU!