(WFRV) – The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is asking ATV and UTV operators to ride safely this 4th of July weekend.

According to a release, 17 people have died in ATV/UTV crashes so far this year. Of the 5 fatal UTV crash victims, none were wearing helmets and 4 of 5 did not wear seat belts. In fatal ATV crashes, 10 out of the 12 victims were not wearing helmets.

“This year, 12 of the 17 fatal crashes so far occurred on public roads or routes. We want everyone to stay safe out there; familiarizing yourself with ATV-UTV laws and safe operation practices is a must before you head out,” says Lt. Martin R. Stone, DNR Off-Highway Vehicle Administrator.

DNR staff asks everyone to follow these tips for a safe ride:

  • Never consume alcohol or drugs before or during your ride.
  • Wear a seat belt and a Department of Transportation (DOT)-approved helmet.
  • In addition to a seat belt and helmet, wear protective clothing such as eye protection, gloves, long pants, and a long-sleeved shirt.
  • Keep your speed in check for terrain and visibility conditions.
  • Be careful while traveling on/over hills or uneven terrain.
  • Know before you go. Review all ATV/UTV laws here.

One of the best things ATV and UTV operators can do to keep others safe is take an online safety course. A list of approved safety education classes is available on the DNR Safety Education webpage.

DNR says ATV and UTV operators born on or after Jan. 1, 1988, who are at least 12 years old for an ATV (and at least 16 years old for UTV) must complete an ATV safety certification course to operate in Wisconsin (exception: on private property owned by operator’s immediate family).

If you do crash, Wisconsin law requires every operator involved to report the crash without delay to law enforcement officials. In addition, within 10 days of the incident, the operator must submit a written report to the DNR.