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Protect your farm family from ATV injuries

Ag News Wire
By Katherine Waters, University of Minnesota Extension

ST. PAUL, Minn. (9/20/2010) --Many Minnesota farmers use all-terrain vehicles (ATVs) to check on crops and livestock, inspect and repair irrigation systems and fence lines, supervise field crews, herd livestock, and to move things from here to there and back again.

ATVs are useful on the farm, but a growing number of deaths and injuries resulting from accidents led the National Education Center for Agricultural Safety ( to focus on ATVs for this year's National Farm Safety and Health Week, September 19-25.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPCS) reported that in recent years an estimated 25,500 individuals were treated for ATV-related injuries in hospital emergency rooms. Four out of 10 people treated in emergency rooms for ATV injuries are under the age of 16. The exact number of injuries is not known because many ATV injuries are treated at home.

The CPSC report also indicated that 6.4 percent of all ATV accidents occurred on the farm. This number is expected to grow as the ATV becomes a more common agricultural machine.

Each year, about 800 deaths are associated with ATV accidents nationwide. In Minnesota, 248 deaths have been reported in the past 26 years, with 19 percent of the deaths reported in the past two years. Clearly, the number of deaths per year associated with ATVs has increased in recent years.

The machines are getting bigger and faster, weighing 600 or more pounds, with speeds exceeding 70 miles per hour. Rollover accidents are the most common. When it comes to ATV use, the following simple safety measures can mean the difference between life and death:

  • Be aware of your surroundings

  • Wear a helmet

  • Be familiar with the manufacturer's safety precautions

  • Don't allow passengers

  • Take an ATV training course

  • Make sure your ATV is equipped with headlights and tail lamps

  • ATVs are designed for off- highway use

  • Display red, reflective warning devices on the front and rear when operating near public roadways

ATV use in Minnesota is regulated by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR). For a summary of Minnesota ATV laws, visit If you operate an ATV, contact the DNR Information Center at 1-888-646-6367 to receive a free ATV safety training CD.

For more information on how to protect yourself, your farm family and your farm employees during harvest season, visit the National Agricultural Safety Database website at

During harvest, we see increased use of farm machinery in the fields and on the roads. Let's pay attention to vehicular safety and make this season a safe one for all.

Any use of this article must include the byline or following credit line:
Katherine Waters is an agricultural health and safety educator and food systems program leader with University of Minnesota Extension. She also serves as a regional advisor to the Great Plains Center for Agricultural Health, and is a member of the Midwest Center for Occupational Health and Safety Advisory Committee.

Media Contact: Catherine Dehdashti, U of M Extension, (612) 625-0237,

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