ATV’s (All Terrain Vehicles) are a common sight in French Prairie. You don’t see them just on farms anymore. They are popular among outdoor enthusiasts of all ages who ride them through trails, fields and designated off-highway vehicle parks.
There’s a downside to ATV’s for children. Safe operation of ATV’s requires skill and quick thinking, and despite their name, ATVs are not safe on all terrains. They have a high center of gravity and off-road tires that unevenly grab paved or gravel road surfaces, and a “fun” ride can turn into something else in an instant. It’s very easy for a child to jump on an ATV, push the throttle and make it go, but that doesn’t mean that they’re able to make the decisions that are necessary to safely operate them.
Oregon law requires that all persons under age 16 must be supervised by a person 18 years of age or older.
Children are involved in about 30% of all ATV-related deaths and emergency room-treated injuries. The most common types of ATV injuries are bumps, bruises and fractures, but more serious injuries also occur. Injuries to the spine and pelvis often result from rollovers. Concussions and other head injuries also are common, especially if the rider was not wearing a helmet.
Parents should supervise their children and enforce safety rules, but just watching your child won’t prevent a crash. Oregon law says requires all operators (regardless of age) of quads and three-wheel ATVs (Class I ATVs) and off-road motorcycles (Class III ATVs) to have an ATV Safety Education card when operating on lands open to public use. Safety training isn’t mandatory for riders using an ATV or off-road motorcycle for farming, agriculture, forestry, nursery, Christmas tree growing operations or when riding on private land.
In order to make training as convenient as possible, the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department now offers a free safety education program and certification online on this website. http://www.rideatvoregon.org
Riding on Public Streets, Roads, and Highways
Class I ATV’s (quads and 3-wheelers) defined as vehicles 50 inches wide or less, with a dry weight of 1,200 pounds or less are never street legal in Oregon. You cannot travel along the road for any length, but you can move directly across the road, perpendicular to the flow of traffic, if necessary to reach the other side.
Respecting Private Property
Teaching children to safely operate and enjoy an ATV needs to include a lesson in respect for private property. French Prairie’s open fields may be fun to ride on, but the majority are privately owned, and should be treated as such. Four simple rules apply:
- Be Respectful. If it’s not your property, don’t enter onto it without permission.
- If the property is fully or partially fenced or enclosed in a manner so it is obvious that the owner does not want intruders on it, then don’t enter onto it without permission. Any type of “enclosure” or device designed to keep people out like a barricade, a earthen berm, a ditch, a moat, piles of dirt on the trails, a strand of barbed wire, a row of posts, etc., are enough to warn you that you are not allowed on the property;
- If the owner, his agent, a law enforcement officer, or other authorized person tells you to stay off the property then you must stay off of it; and
- If the property is posted with “No Trespassing” or “Keep Out” signs then it is illegal for you to ride on the property.