OPINION: Putting an OHV under the tree? Don’t forget the safety gear

If you’re planning on giving or receiving an off-highway vehicle as part of the holiday season, make sure you have the proper protective gear to get off to a safe start. Whether the ATV, dirt bike or side-by-side is for a family member, lucky friend or yourself, the Arizona Game and Fish Department recommends that you wear the following equipment when riding in an OHV:

  • Helmet — All OHV operators or passengers younger than 18 are required to wear a U.S. Department of Transportation-safety rated helmet, but they are strongly recommended for everyone.
  • Eye protection — Motorcycle goggles or a full-face shield are legally required for all riders if the OHV isn’t equipped with a windshield. This helps protect riders against eye injuries from flying debris.
  • Riding jersey — A long-sleeved riding jersey can protect riders from numerous issues, like windburn and hypothermia. In addition, bright colors will increase your visibility on the trail.
  • Riding gloves — Wear off-road motorcycle or OHV gloves to protect your hands from flying debris and trailside hazards like branches and bushes and enhance your grip while driving.
  • Riding pants, hip pads, knee pads and elbow pads — This specialty gear all offers additional protection for riders. Make sure the pieces fit properly and comfortably without restricting movement.
  • Riding boots — Over-the-ankle boots help prevent foot and ankle injuries, while also giving riders better grip on footrests.
  • Now that you’re properly outfitted to hit the trail, one of the most important things to wear is a seatbelt. A number of fatal accidents this year have involved utility task vehicles that roll over and pin the operator underneath. If your OHV is equipped with seatbelts, wear them — they’ll help keep the operator and any passengers inside the vehicle in the event of an accident.

The Arizona Game and Fish Department has information about safety courses to teach both new and veteran OHV enthusiasts about safe and responsible riding practices. Get more information online at www.azgfd.gov/ohv.

Elaine Pittman
Public information officer
Arizona Game and Fish Department

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