EAU CLAIRE, Wisc. (WEAU) - Two people died in all-terrain vehicle crashes this month in Wisconsin, including a woman in Jackson County, and with more inexperienced riders likely out during deer season, the Department of Natural Resources and longtime riders are asking new riders to be cautious.
Shawn Flynn of Eau Claire said he's been riding and racing ATVs for 25 years, seeing a few crashes along the way, and started teaching his 12-year-old son how to ride two years ago.
"If there's fields or gravel pits or wherever you're riding, and it's not a controlled scene, there can be a lot of hidden obstacles that could surprise you and really cause a lot of injury," Flynn said.
D.N.R. recreational safety warden William Yearman handles fatal ATV accident reports and said many can be avoided and that safety starts with getting certified through the state.
"There's probably a lot more out right now that may be just using their ATVs a few times a year on private property as we get into more the deer season," Yearman said. "Drinking and driving is always somewhat of an issue. It's a small percentage of the people that do it, but it's a large percentage of the people that get seriously injured or fatal."
According to the D.N.R., of last year's 16 fatal crashes in Wisconsin, six had blood alcohol contents over the legal limit of .08 and only two were certified and wearing helmets.
"It's always a disappointment (to hear about fatal crashes). The thing that usually crossed my mind first is just wondering what safety gear the person had on? Was there anything that they should have done to help prevent a death or injury?" Flynn said.
"The main thing is, it's best to wear a helmet, use some common sense, and go at a moderate speed," Yearman said.
It's important to have the right size ATV to fit the rider, Yearman said, and that riders must know that conditions can change everyday.
Safety classes are provided in Cornell Oct. 15-18. For more information, contact Andrea Smith at (715) 239-6728. They're also available online at: http://www.atvcourse.com/usa/wisconsin/.