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DNR officials stress importance of ATV safety training for youth

Youth between the ages of 12-15 need to complete online and hands on ATV training in order to legally ride on public property and roadways.

CASS COUNTY, Minnesota — Health officials have warned about the growing numbers of ATV injuries and deaths across Minnesota and Wisconsin. Most recently, the Ramsey County Sheriff's Office said a contract worker with the county's parks and recreational system was killed in an ATV crash in St. Paul on Monday.  

Officials with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) are also warning of the dangers and the importance of being properly trained and prepared to ride. 

"There's a lot of kids, families that come up to the area, come to their cabins and operate ATVs," said Minnesota DNR Regional Training Officer Amber Ladd in an interview in Cass County.

Ladd teaches volunteers to run ATV safety training classes for youth across the state and said ATV safety training is crucial for all ages.

"For example, last year, there were 22 fatal crashes in Minnesota and none of them had ATV safety," Ladd said.

For youth ages 12-15, in order to ride legally on public property and roadways, they need to complete online and hands on ATV safety training. They also must ride with a parent or guardian. 

"First time I rode, I was hooked, I guess," said Paul Albrecht. 

Albrecht volunteers to run ATV youth safety classes in Cass County because he doesn't want to see anyone get hurt, again.

"Somebody in our homeowners association wiped out on the side of the road and was airlifted out," said Albrecht. "It was a youth and because of that event, we figured we should train all the youth we could to be safe riders so this wouldn't happen."

"The thing about these machines is they're actually quite powerful machines. They were originally built to help on farms and things like that," Ladd said.

The course builds in obstacles so students learn how to adjust their bodies when the machine is off balance.

"This might be the first motor vehicle they've ever operated," Ladd said. "People just weren't paying attention or they were going too fast. And they were kind of having that laid back attitude of 'I'm up north. This is vacation time'. ... And not taking it really as seriously as you might when you're driving a vehicle down the road."

For more information on upcoming ATV Safety Field Day Class offerings across Minnesota, click here.

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