ATV riding still dangerous with experience and despite age

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COLUMBIA -  Safety levels of all-terrain vehicles is being re-evalutated after an 87 year-old man died in an accident Wednesday. Harold Mueller of Jefferson City died after his ATV flipped over, pinning him underneath on a dry creek bed.

Brent Steele, an employee of YC Powersports Columbia, says the first thing he discusses with customers is age restrictions.

“We make sure we find the right unit for age appropriation,” he said.

In Missouri, no minor under 16 can ride without parent supervision, but there is no age restriction for operating the vehicle.

The Missouri State Highway Patrol asks parents to ensure their child’s mental and physical preparedness before riding an ATV.

There is no maximum age limit for older people driving ATVs. Steele said they sell to customers well into their seventies.

“As long as they can throw their leg over the seat and handle it, they have a good time with it,” he said.

Steele said safety should be the priority, especially during an individual’s first riding experience.

“You’re teaching your child how to do this and it does lead into larger models.”

YC Powersports offers safety courses immediately following the purchase on an ATV, but Steele said there is still a risk.

“Sometimes an accident just happens,” he said.

Riders must wear a helmet, according to federal law. ATV experts recommend wearing googles, gloves, riding boots, chest protectors, pants and long-sleeved shirts.

Steele said there are no recommended speed levels, but riders should be familiar with the terrain.

“The slippery stuff is where you need to be very, very careful,” he said.

The Missouri State Highway Patrol requires a braking system in good conditions. Steele said newer models have more updated braking systems that are considered safer. Mueller was driving a 2001 Honda Rancher. 

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