Keep your head firmly attached to your neck with these safety tips

Be smart, safe and secure with wisdom given by Sixteen Safety Services

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ATVs ride in a field

Andrea Crittenden has worked in health and safety for a dozen years. She started up Sixteen Safety Services Inc. in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, to help riders stay safe. — Photo courtesy Andrea Crittenden

“Whoops.” We’ve all said it at one time or another:

  • Spilled milk—“whoops.”
  • Forgot to set the alarm clock—“whoops.”
  • Too much air on a jump in an ATV—“whoops.”

Instead of just a mild inconvenience, that last “whoops” could result in death.

For the past decade, Andrea Crittenden of Sixteen Safety Services in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, has been arming riders with knowledge and know-how, keeping “whoops” moments to a minimum.


Rookie mistakes

When it comes to new riders, it’s important to know the machine, its capabilities and their own ability behind the handlebars. Training courses at Sixteen Safety Services starts small and progressively increases the rider's knowledge and abilities.

Without proper training, rookie riders underestimate the capabilities of their ATV—its power, action and reaction—as well as overestimate their own ability to operate the machine.

The main skill ATV and snowmobile newbies need to master is weight transfer. “Using your weight transfer on the seat will help make the turn,” said Crittenden. “You’re able to ride a lot longer when you’re shown how to transfer your weight.”


Be prepared

Mishaps can be made manageable with proper safety training and equipment. “Mistakes can be avoided by being prepared,” Crittenden said. “Prepare yourself for an emergency situation. Carrying extra things like water, snacks and first-aid kits—they come in all shapes and sizes. In Saskatchewan, the weather can change in an instant, and that could mean being stranded somewhere. Expect the unexpected.”


Deadly concoctions

It’s been said many times before but bears repeating: don’t drink and drive. “It’s still a big problem,” said Crittenden. “There are a lot of rally events that, although they’re great events, they get mixed with drugs or alcohol. It leads to incidents and fatalities. You’re not invincible.”

Besides the injury risk riders take when drinking, there’s also the financial burden to consider. “A lot of people don’t realize that it’s no different drinking and driving with an ATV as with your car,” Crittenden said. “The police can ticket you with the same tickets, even if you’re on trails or private land.”


Trailering/hauling safety tips

Somewhat of a less obvious safety concern riders need to consider pertains to trailering and hauling. Secure each piece of equipment properly with four ratchet tie-downs each, and wear your helmet when loading and unloading your ride. “There have been several incidents where people have tried to load their ATV/UTV/snowmobile and the trailer or ramp has malfunctioned and they’ve driven off of it,” Crittenden said. “Unfortunately, there are fatal injuries involved with that.”

Riding an ATV is fun. Keep it that way by using your head and planning ahead.

Don’t knock off your block, use T-CLOC!

T-CLOC is an acronym used during training at Sixteen Safety Services Inc. It’s a reminder of what you should check mechanically on your equipment. Before you go out and ride, check that all of these parts are in good working order. If they’re not, you run the risk of being injured, stranded or left in a position where you could become vulnerable.

T—Tires and wheels
C—Controls and cables
L—Lights and electrics
O—Oil and fuel
C—Chain or drive shaft, chassis and suspension

“It’s basic maintenance,” Crittenden said. “A good way to find out where all these parts and pieces are is to take the course that we offer because we go through each of them in detail and in a way that your everyday rider can understand.”

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