SALT LAKE CITY — The state is rolling out a new campaign to save lives as off-highway vehicle enthusiasts start heading outdoors.
The program, titled "Nobody is Invincible,” reminds OHV motorists that accidents do happen and anyone can get hurt, no matter how old they are.
Utah State Parks estimates 350,000 people will enjoy OHV and ATV riding in the state this year. The popular pastime is an exciting way to explore more than 80,000 miles of trails; however, it can be dangerous without the proper gear and education.
Strapping on a helmet when riding and urging family and friends to wear safety gear can help, said OHV Program Manager Chris Haller.
Adults get injured more often than children. “No matter what age you are, we know that helmets will save lives," Haller said.
Helmets are mandatory in Utah for any rider 17 years old and younger, but all riders are encouraged to wear helmets.
"We would love to be right around that national seat belt average of about 80 to 85 percent,” Haller said. “So we would love to be around that same percentile because we know that they save lives."
Utah averages 14 OHV deaths per year, but state surveys show only 58 percent of OHV riders frequently wear helmets.
"That's not acceptable in our program. We are really trying to rely on the general public to be very self-aware,” Haller said.
Many who get injured are not frequent riders, he added.
"Review the placards that are on the machine and review the owner's manual. Take an OHV education course and wear the proper gear,” he advised.
Only 38 percent of Utah riders report their children completed the required "Know before you go!" certification course, even though 88 percent said they were aware of the law requiring an education certificate.
"It's like you're getting your driver’s license for the very first time,” Haller said.
Riders often face unexpected obstacles, so the state is pushing education and preparation.
"Accidents do happen. Please remember, nobody is invincible,” Haller said.
More information is available at stateparks.utah.gov/activities/off-highway-vehicles/.