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ATV certification course for kids aims to reduce traumatic brain injuries in Utah

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Posted at 9:38 PM, Jul 11, 2015
and last updated 2015-07-11 23:38:19-04

OGDEN, Utah -- Going off road on an all-terrain vehicle is a popular family activity in Utah, but the Utah Division of Natural Resources says less than half the kids riding ATVs have safety training.

Saturday, they partnered with Primary Children's Hospital in an effort to change that.

Gary Burnham and his family love to hit the ATV trails. They have a family rule: No one gets on a machine without taking a certification course first.

“They learn how to understand the risks that are out there, and it's all lot of fun, but it gets bumpy,” he said. “We run into steep hills and those types of things, but they learn how to handle it safely, so that we can go back the next day and enjoy it more.”

Friday, Burnham watched his 10th grandchild become ATV certified. But his family is in the minority.

The Utah DNR says just 38 percent of Utah kids under 16 who have parents who own an ATV have taken the mandatory ATV training, and only 58 percent of Utahns report wearing helmets while riding on ATVS.

“It is very dangerous,” said Chris Haller, with the Utah DNR . “These are not babysitting units or devices.”

Utah has the fourth highest rate of traumatic brain injuries in kids ages 5 to 14, according to Primary Children's Hospital, and at least 12 percent of those injuries are caused by ATV accidents.

“There's a lot of talk about whether kids should even be on ATVs, and that is going to be somewhat of a personal choice, but the most that we could hope for is that if a family chooses to ride ATVs together, they're prepared to do so in the most protective manner that they can,” said Janet Brooks of Primary Children's Hospital.

Riley Crezay is 13 and has been riding ATVs for five years. He said riding is more fun when everyone knows what they're doing.

“I definitely want to be safe, and I want my little brother to be safe,” Riley said. “He’s out there riding right now, but I think if I’m safe, then I can teach other kids how to be safe, and if we're all safe, then we can all have fun at the same time.”

DNR personnel said educating your kids and making sure they wear a helmet are the two most important things you can do to keep them safe. The DNR offers online ATV certification classes for all kids over 8 and under 16, click here for details.