Deaths this year among ATV-UTV users highest since 2009
All-terrain and utility-terrain vehicle operators preparing to ride this weekend are urged to operate with safety as their highest priority, the state’s ATV administrator said today as this week’s death of an ATV operator driving on a state trail in Sawyer County pushed Wisconsin’s total ATV-UTV user fatalities to 18.
Conservation Warden Todd Schaller, also the DNR chief of the Bureau of Law Enforcement’s Recreation Enforcement and Education Section, says the death total is the highest since 2009 and serves as a tragic reminder to all ATV and UTV users to think safety at all times.
“Wardens anticipate even more ATV and UTV use this weekend as hunters hit the woods and trail riders are out enjoying the emerging fall colors. This is a very popular season in Wisconsin and we want everyone to have a lot of fun – and to be able to share stories of their fun at the end of the day,” Schaller says. “People ask me what is causing these tragedies. There are three common factors that link these fatalities: speed, lack of a helmet and alcohol use.”
Schaller says there were 18 ATV user fatalities for all of 2009 – a total Wisconsin matched this week with three months left in the year.
So far this year, the victims have ranged in ages 9 – 77. The majority were not Wisconsin safety-certified nor wearing a helmet. And roughly half had alcohol intake as a possible factor. In a couple of cases, the victims were operating the machines in tight circles while spinning and rolling and were ejected.
“Eighteen fatalities is 18 too many. These have been tragic, painful losses for families and friends of these victims. Let’s work together to keep the rest of the year safe on ATVs and UTVs – whether you are operating on public lands or private properties,” Schaller says.
Another thing for ATV-UTV operators to know is the type of the lands they are traveling. Are they public, state, federal, private — find out. “And take the time to contact the appropriate office in charge of those areas to make sure ATV or UTV use is allowed,” Schaller says.”
ATV riding is a growing sport. But that’s not all these machines are used for.
“You’ll see these vehicles used for work on farms and larger properties,” Schaller says. “While as much fun as these vehicles can be to use, it is essential to remember they have motors and must be operated with safety.”
Schaller and the Wisconsin DNR wardens ask ATV-UTV users to always remember these safety tips:
- Ride with a safety mindset
- Slow down
- Ride under control
- Practice “Zero Alcohol” — refrain from drinking any alcohol until you’re home and done riding for the day.
“The wardens want everyone to enjoy Wisconsin’s outdoors in any season. Have fun, but stay safe by practicing these safety tips,” Schaller says.
Riders also are encouraged to visit the DNR website to learn more about safety tips, the latest in ATV laws and more:
Or go to dnr.wi.gov and search: ATV