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ALL TERRAIN CYCLE SAFETY TIPS
The nature of ATV riding demands that you wear protective clothing. Knowing what to wear and how to wear it can reduce the chance of an injury and make you more comfortable when you ride.The following protective gear should be worn every time you ride an ATV:
- Helmet — Your helmet is the most important piece of protective gear for safe riding. A helmet can help prevent a serious head injury. Selecting the right helmet is important and easy if a few basic tips are kept in mind. Select a helmet that bears the label of either the Department of Transportation, the American National Standards Institute or the Snell Memorial Foundation. The helmet should fit snug and be securely fastened. Full-face helmets protect your face as well as your head. Open-face types are lighter and cooler, but should be used with a chin guard that will offer chin and mouth protection.
- Eye protection — Eye protection is a must. If an object hits you in the face, such as a rock, branch or even a bug, it will distract you and may cause blindness, especially if it hits you in the eyes. Regular sunglasses do not provide adequate protection. The helmet's face shield or a pair of riding goggles will protect your eyes properly. Select well-ventilated goggles that can be securely fastened and are free from scratches.
- Gloves — Gloves provide protection from abrasions and help to keep your hands from getting sore, tired or cold. Off-road style motorcycle gloves provide a good combination of protection and comfort.
- Boots — At a minimum, riders should wear a pair of boots that lace above the ankle for ankle support, with low heels to help prevent the boot from slipping off the footrests.
- Shirt and pants — At a minimum, a long-sleeved shirt and long pants should be worn to reduce abrasions on the body.
Inspecting the mechanical condition of your ATV before each day's use is important for minimizing the chances of injury or becoming stranded. The fact that you can ride farther in an hour than you can walk in a day emphasizes the need to maintain your ATV in peak operational form. The owner's manual should be used to ensure proper understanding of all critical points on your machine.Check the following components before using your ATV:
- Tires — Always maintain the recommended tire pressure consistently in each tire. If the tires on your ATV have unequal pressure, the ATV will pull toward the tire with the least air pressure. Most automotive tire pressure gauges will not accurately measure the low pressure typically used in ATV tires. A gauge designed for low pressure should be used. Wheel lug nuts should be checked to make sure they are tight. Grasp each tire at the front and rear, then try to rock the tire on its axle to check for worn-out axle bearings and loose nuts. Always use a torque wrench while following the tightening procedures and specifications for all fasteners outlined in your operator's manual.
- Throttle — Check throttle operation while moving the handlebars fully to the left and then fully to the right. An accumulation of mud and dirt can restrict cable movement and prevent the throttle from closing.
- Brakes — Your brakes are a crucial part of riding and they must always be in top condition. Make sure they work smoothly and that they are in adjustment according to the instructions in the owner's manual.
- Light and switches — Be sure all lights are working. Check engine stop switches by switching them off and on during the warm-up period.
- Oil and fuel — Check the oil and fuel with the engine off. Look for fuel or oil leaks.
- Drivetrain and chassis — Inspect your chain for proper adjustment, adequate lubrication and signs of wear. If your ATV is equipped with a drive shaft rather than a chain, check for oil leaks and maintain its oil supply as outlined in your owner's manual. Rough terrain will loosen chassis parts. Look and feel for loose parts while the engine is off. Shake handlebars, footrests and other similar components before each ride, and periodically check major fasteners with a wrench. The operator's manual should be read and understood before attempting to operate your ATV. It will contain specifications and procedures that apply directly to your model and should be considered as the final authority for safe operation of your ATV. Such information may include tire inflation pressures, torque specifications for fasteners, oil types and service intervals, battery maintenance, or brake adjustment and service.
Operating your ATV
Turns — Most ATVs have solid rear axles, which turn each of the rear wheels at the same speed. This requires special turning skills, which primarily involve shifting your body weight. Low-speed turns require that you shift your body weight forward and to the outside of the turn as you turn the handlebar. The objective is to reduce weight on the inside rear wheel. For turns at higher speeds, you must lean your upper body toward the inside of the turn while keeping your weight on the outer footrest. This balances the higher cornering forces as vehicle speed increases. If your ATV starts tipping during a turn at any speed, lean your upper body farther into the turn while gradually reducing the throttle and making the turn wider.
Braking — Begin the braking process by releasing the throttle and shifting to a lower gear well in advance of the intended stopping point. With this method, the engine helps to slow your ATV. Applying brakes smoothly and evenly will bring your ATV to its quickest stop. Apply brakes lightly on slippery surfaces. When descending a hill, shift to a lower gear for engine braking rather than riding the brakes for an extended period of time.
Climbing — The first rule to remember is to stay off hills too steep for your ability or that of your ATV. When approaching a hill, you should keep both feet firmly on the footrests and shift your body weight forward by sliding forward on the seat. For steep hills, stand on the footrests and lean forward to shift as much weight forward as possible. To reduce the chance of stalling the engine, climb hills in a low gear. If the engine does stall, you must apply the brakes before the forward motion stops. If your ATV stalls and then rolls backward, apply brakes slowly. Rapidly applying brakes during a backward roll can cause a rear overturn.
Descending — Before descending a hill, you should shift the transmission into a low gear and point the ATV directly downhill. Keep both feet firmly on the footrests and slide back on the seat to increase your stability and the effectiveness of the brakes.
Riding across slopes — Avoid crossing steep slopes and slopes where there is slippery or bumpy terrain. If you do ride across slopes, keep both feet firmly on the footrests and lean your body uphill. If the ATV begins to tip, turn the front wheels downhill. If the terrain prohibits your turning downhill, dismount on the uphill side immediately.
Additional equipment — Many operators are taking advantage of the additional equipment available to increase the uses of their ATVs. This equipment can be divided into two categories: that which is rigidly mounted on the ATV and pull-type equipment that is towed by the ATV's drawbar. While this equipment can increase your machine's uses, it imposes some new operating restrictions that must be followed for safe operation.Rigid mount equipment is usually bolted to the front or rear of the machine and includes luggage racks to transport feed or supplies, broadcast seeders and wick applicators for chemical weed control. This type of mounting places the entire weight burden on your ATV. You should realize that this will have a significant impact on the weight and balance of your machine. The center of gravity may be moved to a position of lessened stability. Mounting on the front can make steering more difficult and decrease traction on the rear wheels. Mounting on the rear can increase the chance of a rear overturn. Either mounting can increase the chance of a side overturn and requires added caution when operating on level as well as sloped ground.Pull-type equipment attached to the drawbar varies from a wagon of firewood to a row-crop sprayer. This type of mounting also has an effect on an ATV's stability. As the amount of drawbar pull required for the load increases, so does the tendency for the front end of the ATV to rise. Caution should be used not to expect more from your ATV than it can safely provide.Whenever equipment is added, counterweights can be used to offset the load and improve the new balance of your machine. Be careful not to exceed the weight limitations set forth by the ATV manufacturer. Remember, just because your ATV can pull a heavy load does not mean it can safely stop it.Additional equipment may also require additional protective gear for the operator. Examples of this include protection from objects thrown by a mower and chemical protection from the drift of sprayers.
Four major U.S. ATV distributors (Honda, Kawasaki, Suzuki and Yamaha) established the Specialty Vehicle Institute of America (SVIA) in 1983 to promote the safe and responsible use of ATVs. In 1988, the SVIA formed a new division, the ATV Safety Institute (ASI), to expand the availability of their ATV RiderCourse.ASI offers a free training course to individuals who purchased a new ATV after December 31, 1986. The free training also is available to all members of the purchaser's immediate family who are in the recommended age group for the ATV purchased. The ATV RiderCourse is a one-day, hands-on safety training program. The training includes pre-ride inspections, starting and stopping, turning, operation on hills, emergency stopping and swerving, and riding over obstacles. It also covers protective riding gear, environmental concerns, local laws, and safety techniques. The training course is taught by certified instructors at hundreds of locations across the United States.FOR MORE INFORMATION ABOUT ATV SAFETY call the Consumer Product Safety Commission at 1-800-638-2772, or the ATV Distributors' Safety Hotline at 1-800-852-5344
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MOTORCYCLE SAFETY TIPS
Physical and Mental Preparedness
Often overlooked, these are very important aspects of motorcycle safety. Operating a motorcycle safely is much more physically and mentally demanding than driving a car. Are you physically able to ride safely? Are you mentally prepared to ride and concentrate on the riding tasks? Many things can impair either or both. Some things are rather obvious, some not. Consider this list:
It is obvious that item 1 will impair your physical abilities to operate a motorcycle. Item 2 is less obvious but potentially just as dangerous. You may feel MUCH better, but after a day or two of extreme weakness and bedrest, you are not back to 100% as quickly as you may think. Your bike falling from under you when your leg is too weak to hold it up at a stop is not the time to realize it. Items 3 and 4 similarly both impair mental readiness. Item 3 is obvious, but item 4 will generally cause you to have your mind elsewhere, at least temporarily. I've been told that it's no big deal because it happens all the time. I have to say that it IS a big deal, at least to you, or you would never have been arguing in the first place. It would be impossible to list all things that could impair your abilites. The key is to be aware of your physical and mental condition and save the ride for later if there is anything that could substantially impair either. Your life may depend on it.
- You have been drinking for the past two hours.
- You are just getting over a pretty bad case of the flu.
- You have just been notified that a member of your family has passed away.
- You just had an argument with your spouse.
When most people hear the term "riding gear", they think of things that will lessen injury in case of a fall. While that is a big part of it, riding gear can and should be used to help keep you from falling in the first place. Never thought about it that way? If not, you're certainly not alone. Proper riding gear is used to maintain comfort as well as provide crash protection. Discomfort can actually CAUSE a fall. So what is proper riding gear? It depends on the conditions, but at minimum it is:
- A helmet approved by DOT, and preferably also by Snell. The helmet should fit snug but not be too tight. In other words, it should be comfortable. Besides being the best defense against head injury in case of a fall, a helmet has some other advantages as well.
- A long-sleeved shirt or jacket, snug at the wrists.
- Long pants.
- Full-fingered gloves. Besides abrasion protection, gloves usually offer a better grip on the controls, especially in condition extremes. In the cold, you will need them to stay warm. In the heat, sweaty hands or fingers may slip off the controls. Gloves offer a buffer against this. They also provide some level of protection against flying objects, such as rocks picked up by traffic or insects, that inevitably will collide with your hands.
- Eye protection. This may be goggles, a face-shield, or glasses. Windshields attached to motorcycles DO NOT offer adequate eye protection.
- Sturdy footwear, preferably leather and preferably over the ankle. Besides the obvious abrasion protection, on most motorcycles there are many hot parts that reside near your feet and ankles. You should also try to avoid long or dangling laces. Your quick thinking may be put to the test if you come to a stop and your foot won't go down because you have a lace caught in the shifter or brake pedal.
Making Sure Your Motorcycle Is Ready
You being ready to ride is only part of the battle. You need to make sure your motorcycle is ready too. You should perform a quick, overall inspection of your motorcycle before each ride. To do this, use what is referred to as the T-CLOCK inspection, explained below.
Although this sounds like a lot, this inspection can be performed quite quickly. While it won't guarantee against a failure of some sort, it increases your odds of finding problems before they become dangerous or fatal.
- T - Tires and wheels
Check your tires for proper air pressure, tread depth, cracks, bulges or embedded objects. Check wheels for dents, cracks and roundness. Check spokes for proper tightness or missing spokes. Check bearings and seals for signs of failure.
- C - Controls
Check all levers, making sure they are not broken, bent, cracked or loose. Check the condition and routing of control cables, making sure they move freely, are not frayed, and have no sharp angles, and are of sufficient length as to not interfere with steering. Check that all hoses are are in good condition and don't interfere with steering. Make sure your throttle moves freely, with no sticking and snaps closed when released.
- L - Lights and electrical
Check your battery, making sure the terminals are clean, electrolyte fluid is sufficient, and that it is properly secured. Check your headlight, making sure it works, has no cracks and is aimed properly. Check all other lights and reflectors for operation, cracks and fastening. Check wiring, looking for frays, clean connections and proper routing.
- O - Oil and fluids
Check oil and fluid levels, including brake and clutch fluid, coolant and of course gasoline. Check all fluid reservoirs, hoses and lines for leaks.
- C - Chassis
Check condition of the frame, looking for cracks, dents or bends. Check forks and shocks, making sure they travel freely and are properly adjusted. Check chain or belt, for proper tension, lubrication and wear. Check all fasteners, bolts and cotter pins, making sure they are not missing, broken or loose.
- K - Kickstand
Check the sidestand and centerstand. Make sure they are not cracked or bent, and that they spring into place and the tension is sufficient to hold them.
Carrying a Passenger
Carrying a passenger on a motorcycle is not like taking someone with you in a car. A passenger affects the overall handling and dynamics of your motorcycle. Unless you are a fairly skilled rider, you probably should not even consider taking on a passenger. If you do carry a passenger, you should know and do the following:
- Never carry a passenger unless your motorcycle is designed for one, including seating space and passenger footpegs.
- NEVER allow a passenger to sit anywhere except on the area of the seat designated for a passenger.
- Make sure that the weight of yourself, your passenger and all gear does not exceed the maximum recommended weight for your motorcycle according to manufacturer's specifications.
- Make sure your passenger has proper riding gear. It's just as important for your passenger to be protected and comfortable as it is for you.
- Make sure your passenger knows what he/she is supposed to do. Unless the person has ridden with you many times and you know he/she understands the rules, take the time to go over them before you start your ride. The passenger should:
- Keep his/her feet on the footpegs at all times, and avoid contact with hot parts.
- Sit still as much as possible, particularly when slowing or stopped.
- Always lean with the motorcycle. This means the passenger's torso should always be the same angle as the motorcycle. They should not lean in or out.
- When in a turn, look over the shoulder of the operator in the direction of the turn.
- Make sure your suspension is properly adjusted for the extra weight.
Loading Your Motorcycle
When loading your motorcycle, you need to do more than just randomly fill space. Check your owner's manual to find out your gross carrying capacity and never exceed it. Whether you have a touring machine with a travel trunk and saddlebags, or a standard motorcycle, the rule is the same - the bulk of the weight should be placed low and as close to the center of the motorcycle as possible. Distribute the weight evenly on both sides, and if using manufactured bags, never exceed the weight recommendation for that bag. Make sure that any attached load is securely fastened, and that any straps are tight, have no loose ends, and not freely moving. Make sure that any attached load does not block any lights or turn signals, or interfere with your steering, braking, shifting, or other control of the motorcycle.
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WAFTERCRAFT SAFETY TIPS
Right of way
Follow basic boating guidelines. Sailboats, commercial vessels, and fishing vessels always have the right of way. Stay to the right of when approaching an oncoming craft, so that it passes on your left side. When overtaking another boat, pass on the right or left, but stay clear. If you are about to cross paths with another boat, the craft on the right side has the right of way. Slow down to let the boat on your right continue its course, then pass behind it.
Constantly look for traffic on the water around and especially near you. Know where other boats are and where they're heading before you make a turn or cross a wake.
Wave or Wake Jumping
If your course takes you across the wake of another boat, make sure your visibility is not obstructed by that boat. Stay far enough behind it so that you can see if other traffic is coming your way.
Follow local regulations regarding speed limits, whether posted or not. In congested areas, lower your speed.
Passengers and Guests
Never carry more than the maximum passenger load specified for your craft. If you loan your craft to a friend, make sure he is of legal operating age and that he knows how to operate your craft. Make sure he is fully aware of these safe boating rules.
Check your craft internally and externally before you get on the water. Make sure the throttle and all switches are working properly, that fuel and battery lines are properly connected, that no fuel is leaking, and that cables and steering are functioning.
Launch ramp etiquette
Be considerate and efficient when launching your personal watercraft. Prepare your craft beforehand, and perform all safety checks before you get into the water. Launch quickly and quietly.
Be considerate of waterfront property owners and others near and on the water. Excessive noise from a poorly maintained or modified exhuast system disturbs others and is illegal in many areas.
Repect ecologically-sensitive areas. Don't spill fuel or oil and don't leave litter or other pollutants where they don't belong. Be sensitive to marine life; the water is their home.
Other water enthusiasts
Personal watercraft riders must share the waterways with other boaters, fisherman, swimmers, surfers, and skiers, so respect their rights to safety, access and use of the water.
Remember to ride responsibly!
It's up to you to use your good judgement and to obey all local ordinances that apply to you and your watercraft.If you have any further questions regarding PWC and their safe use, try contacting these organizations for more information:
Personal Watercraft Industry Association
U.S. Coast Guard Auxilary
Personal Watercraft Riders Association
International Jet Sports Association
Boating and Personal Watercraft Clubs
American Red Cross
State Boating Authorities
U.S. Power Squadron
Local Sheriff's Office
Local Marine Patrol