The Dos and Don’ts of Motorized Toys at the Campground

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From The Allstate Blog

Enjoying America’s trails and campgrounds from the seat of an all-terrain vehicle (ATV), motorcycle, recreational off-highway vehicle (ROV) or dirt bike is a great outdoor adventure. But if you’re planning on staying out for longer than a day, you should know that this type of motor vehicle operation comes with definite campground etiquette, as well as personal safety and environmental responsibilities. Learn to have fun without putting yourself, others or wildlife in harm’s way. Consider these dos and don’ts for the safe and responsible operation of ATVs, off-road vehicles, motorcycles and other motor toys.

DO Take a Training Course
Completing a safety course before operating any off-road vehicle is highly recommended. The ATV Safety Institute, a non-profit organization dedicated to increasing the education and awareness of ATV operation, has information on how to register for hands-on courses as well as free online courses.

DON’T Assume Every Campsite Allows Motorcycles and Motor Toys
It’s important to note that not all campsites allow the use of motorcycles and off-road vehicles on their premises due to noise and irresponsible behavior. Unlike staying at motels, you can’t simply pull up and rent accommodations. Make sure to plan your overnight stops and call to inquire ahead of time about vehicle regulations and campground etiquette.

DO Respect the Trail System
The National Park Service of the U.S. Department of the Interior maintains an extensive list of our national trails system. In addition to these public trails, there are a wide variety of private trails that can require extensive upkeep. It’s a good idea to only ride on assigned trails, and always stick to them to avoid damaging fields, wetlands and wildlife.

DON’T Use Off-Road Vehicles as Babysitters
Though it’s hard to believe, some people still confuse adult-sized vehicles with children’s toys. If you stop to make lunch or set camp, don’t throw the kids the keys to your ATV and let them ride around. Children should never operate adult-sized off-road vehicles, and for obvious matters of safety, you may need to supervise your kids whenever they’re operating youth-sized off-road vehicles.

Off-road vehicle operation largely depends on drivers being trained and capable of handling their vehicles properly. At ATVSafety.gov, the message is clear: No one under age 16 should ever operate an adult-sized ATV.

DO Report Reckless Driving
If you observe motor toys or motorcycles being operated recklessly, report the incident to the appropriate authorities. Sadly, fatal accidents rose dramatically last year, according to the Governors Highway Safety Association. And although annually reported ATV related injuries have topped 100,000 each year since 2001, that annual total has been steadily decreasing since 2008. Thanks to educated drivers sharing trails responsibly, this number should continue to shrink. But if you see someone violating the rules of biking or off-road riding, consider doing the right thing and report them. You could be a lifesaver.

DON’T Unnecessarily Rev Engines
Even if you’re a gearhead who loves the sound of your two-stroke engine, revving it to show off can be extremely disturbing to wildlife, not to mention annoying to other campers. Of the numerous reasons why so many campgrounds won’t allow motor toys on their land, one of the most common is the noise associated with their use. Don’t give riding a bad name; run your engine responsibly.

DO Leave Campsites as You Found Them
The cardinal rule of camping is to leave a campsite as pristine as you found it. That means whatever you bring into a natural area, you need to take it out with you when you depart.

Adhere to the rules of camping, biking and off-road riding to responsibly enjoy the outdoors. By respecting nature and its wildlife, you set a wonderful example for your children and others who follow.

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This guest post comes from the editors of The Allstate Blog, which helps people prepare for the unpredictability of life.