With more farmers using utility-terrain and all-terrain vehicles, the Stutsman County sheriff says farmers should drive the conditions of the road they are traveling on.

Sheriff Chad Kaiser said farmers should slow down in rural areas, try to avoid holes in the roads and avoid overlooking road conditions.

The terrain of the road can also affect the handling of UTVs or ATVs. If someone is offroading with UTVs or ATVs, Kaiser said he or she could hit a rock or a large hole and lose control of the off-highway vehicle. A driver could also hit the loose gravel or ripples of the road, which could result in the UTV or ATV going in the ditch.

There haven’t been many accidents with UTVs, but Kaiser said younger people will drive them too fast and make sharp turns, resulting in a rollover.

“The adults have to monitor those kids when they are driving that,” he said. “They still should have a helmet on, especially if they aren’t in an enclosed cabin, and they should wear a helmet and a seat belt.”

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Kaiser said people will try to jump an approach with ATVs or do other things that they aren’t meant to do.

“They end up rolling it,” he said. “A lot of times the accidents that we see, they have no helmet, or were driving too fast for the conditions they are in or might hit a big bump and lose control.”

Off-highway vehicle operators should read all warning stickers on their off-highway vehicle, according to the North Dakota Parks & Recreation Department’s off-highway safety manual. The manual says the stickers warn against the dangers of improper use of the off-highway vehicle.

The majority of off-highway-vehicle accidents are caused by improper use due to a lack of knowledge or training on proper operation, the manual states. Because of the increasing number of off-highway vehicle operators, purchases and accidents, the North Dakota Off-Highway Vehicle Education Course was established.

Off-highway vehicle operators cannot carry a passenger unless the off-highway vehicle is designed with an appropriate manufacturer-equipped passenger seat, according to the manual.

Other safety precautions the manual recommends for off-highway vehicle operators include:

  • wearing a helmet. Seventy-eight percent of fatal injuries occur while riding an off-highway vehicle, the manual states. Your helmet should fit snugly, and the chin strap should always be used.
  • using eye protection. The manual recommends using protective goggles made with hard polycarbonate lenses or wearing a helmet with a protective shield.
  • wearing appropriate clothing. Long-sleeved clothing and long pants will protect your skin and reduce any abrasions from the accident, according to the manual.
  • wearing gloves, which aid in grip.
  • wearing riding boots. The manual recommends wearing a low-heeled riding boot to prevent your feet from slipping off the footrests.