John Hollenhorst ReportingThe season is almost upon us for people to hit the trail and drive like crazy on an ATV, or drive responsibly, depending on the driver. Experts say they've seen plenty of both and all too many deaths.
The number one thing you can do to stay safe is what they do at an Off-Highway Vehicle Park -- take a class. Kids are required to take one. For grownups it's highly recommended.
The reason is that people die on the machines, usually ten or 12 people a year in Utah. And about 2,000-3,000 people a year are hurt badly enough to go to an emergency room. So even Highway Patrolman are taking a class to get ready for the 4-wheeling season. The group we saw will be out enforcing the law Easter weekend at the Little Sahara Sand Dunes.
On the busiest weekends, tens of thousands of people gather at Little Sahara. Most ride safely and have fun. But many do not.
Sgt. Rudy Taylor, UHP: “Not only the quantity of the people there, but if we get alcohol involved it impairs judgment. People aren’t able to determine their speeds well enough and it just causes a hazardous condition for a lot of people.”
Eric Stucki, State Parks OHV Educator: “And we want to let folks know there’s an opportunity for them to reduce accidents and injuries by taking a class.”
The raw numbers of OHV's that are out there are part of the reason there’s a safety concern. It's skyrocketed in recent years, going up tenfold since the mid-1980's. There's now more than 160,000 of them. Hopefully they won't all be squeezed into a small space on Easter weekend.