National Farm Safety and Health Week is a good time for parents and children to review safety tips on the proper way to ride and operate all-terrain vehicles.

safety day logoAll-terrain vehicles (ATVs), though helpful tools on farms and in rural areas, can be extremely dangerous, especially for children. If not properly operated, ATVs can cause severe injury or even death to their operators. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission attributes nearly 6,500 deaths over the last 23 years to ATV accidents. More than 2,000 of those deaths involved children under the age of 16.

"Children under the age of 16 shouldn't drive ATVs, and those who are old enough should know how to properly operate the vehicle before using it," says Bernard Geschke, program specialist for Progressive Agriculture Foundation® (PAF). During National Farm Safety and Health Week, Sept. 18–24, 2011, PAF reminds parents that keeping children safe on the farm, ranch and other rural areas is a year-round job.

Parents should teach their children that ATVs are powerful tools that should be used with caution.

If children are old enough to drive or ride, Geschke suggests complying with the following safety precautions:

• Never ride on paved roads. By traveling on the same road as cars, the ATV driver runs the risk of being hit. Ride only on designated trails.

• Only one person should be allowed to drive an ATV, with no passengers.

• Drivers should be at least 16 years old. ATVs are not appropriate for all ages.

• Always wear a helmet, long sleeves, long pants, boots, goggles and gloves. These will protect riders and drivers in the case of a collision or mishap.

• Take an ATV safety course. The website offers courses to get drivers up to
speed on proper safety practices.

Make sure the ATV is the appropriate size for the rider. Information about properly sizing ATVs may also be found at

Safety tips such as these are examples of the things children learn when they attend Progressive Agriculture Safety Days®, which are held each year in approximately 400 local communities throughout North America.

Safety Days are fun, hands-on, one-day events that provide children with education and training that can keep them and those around them safer and healthier on a farm or ranch, and at home. The program explores more than 30 topics, including ATVs, firearms, water/outdoor safety and knife safety. PAF provides the curriculum, coordinator training, take-home bags, T-shirts and other resources to help make the Safety Days a reality. PAF is committed to providing farm and ranch safety and health education to children across rural America in an effort to reduce farm- or ranch-related injuries and death.

The Progressive Agriculture Safety Day program is the largest rural safety and health education program for children in North America and a program of the Progressive Agriculture Foundation, a 501(c)(3) charitable foundation. The Foundation's mission is to provide education and training to make farm, ranch and rural life safer and healthier for children and their communities. In 2008, PAF was awarded the Better Business Bureau Wise Giving Alliance National Charity Seal, demonstrating its commitment to accountability and ethical practices. Safety Day applications are due each July 15 for Safety Days that will be conducted the following calendar year.