4-H ATV Safety
Cobie Rutherford and Dr. John Long welcome guest and MSU Extension’s ATV Safety expert, Brad Staton.
Announcer: This is 4H4U2, a podcast from the Mississippi State University Extension Service, promoting 4-H programs and positive youth development. Here now your hosts, Dr. John Long and Cobie Rutherford.
John Long: Alright man. Welcome to yet a, another, a podcast of 4H4U2. How is everybody doing today?
Cobie Rutherford: Man? It's a lovely day outside. I'm so happy to be here today. John.
John Long: We are so glad to have a, I don't know if you want to call it fellow, well coworker, fellow beard brother. Uh, even though I call it,
Cobie Rutherford: I feel a little left out without the beard.
John Long: Right. You know, Hey, I'm, I'm losing it on top. Big time. Hey can, it's not too late. He's got a good head of hair. So, you know, I'm jealous. I'm jealous of Cobie. Um, but Brad with ATV safety is here. And um, Brad and well all of us kind of work in kind of the corner, I guess I'm the outsider. My office is a little bit further away from everybody else's, but Brad's going to talk to us about ATV safety and that's something extremely important as we all know. Um, and I guess we just want to start out by saying brand. Tell us a little bit about yourself, uh, where you come from and, and, uh, how you got involved with the, the 4-H ATV safety.
Brad Staton: Oh, that's a good question. Yeah, let's see if I can answer. Um, well, uh, I'm from Alabama originally. Um, went to school at Auburn university. My wife got a professorship at Mississippi State, and here we are. Um, I just kind of looked into the 4-H, uh, position and I guess I like what I'm doing so I'm still here.
John Long: Good, good. And kids.
Brad Staton: Yep. Yeah. Love worked with kids.
John Long: And have some yourself?
Brad Staton: Yeah, I have some myself. I've got two...
John Long: You love 'em so much, you had two.
Brad Staton: Yeah, I had two of them and we're not getting anymore. I don't like them that much.
John Long: You're like Leanne, she said if we had had our boy first, she wouldn't have had another one.
Brad Staton: Well, see, I said the opposite. If we'd have had our girl first, we probably wouldn't have had another one...
John Long: Oh, right. Okay. Okay, cool. Cool. But you do like working with kids?
Brad Staton: Oh yes, I like working with kids. They're lots of fun and then can be stressful sometimes, but it's worth it in the end. Yeah.
Cobie Rutherford: Now Brad, your education training, formal education is in fisheries, right?
Brad Staton: Fisheries and wildlife.
Cobie Rutherford: Fisheries and wildlife. So it kind of makes sense that ATV kind of goes hand in hand with the hunting and outdoors and kind of seems like a good fit to me.
Brad Staton: Yeah. A lot of the jobs I had in the past, you know, required me to, to ride ATVs, you know, through the woods or are on the fish farm, whatever. So, you know, that was kind of my selling point when I applied for the job that, you know, I've, I've driven ATVs, you know, professionally, so to speak, for, for several years before I had this job,
John Long: I don't, I don't know. I don't know if any of y'all had three wheelers. Anybody have a three wheeler?
Brad Staton: I didn't own one, but I've riden one several times when I was younger.
John Long: I had one, I think mine was a 1982 model. It was a 1-10, it was a three wheeler. And I'm going to tell a quick story about my experience. You know, I wanted one bad. Well, I came home and for my birthday there was one sitting in my front yard. I jumped on that thing and took off, you know, no helmet or anything. Right. And, uh, my dad and mom were sitting on the front porch and I took off and I made a loop around the house. Well, I didn't, I couldn't make the turn and I slammed into my dad's truck and I jumped off of it. And I didn't ride it for like probably a day or so. But safety standards are so much different now, uh, and they finally wised up and realized four wheels were better than three, I guess.
Brad Staton: Yes. Uh, I don't, I don't know what took them so long to decide that. It kind of seems, you know, obvious now, but it wasn't a thing that was thought of, you know, back in the 80s.
John Long: and we had no, no rider safety courses that I was aware of. How old is this program or how young and...
Brad Staton: uh, approximately 10 years old I would say. Uh, and I guess we're kind of unique in Mississippi. Uh, many States don't require, you know, various or, many States have different laws. Uh, Mississippi is kind of unique in the fact that we require, you know, riders under 16 to have a safety card through one of the ASI approved, ATV safety Institute approved courses. And we also require riders under 16 to have a helmet on public land.
John Long: That's cool. That's cool.
Cobie Rutherford: And does that a certification, does that apply to only public land or is that private as well?
Brad Staton: Well, the way the law is written, it's only the laws only written for public land. Of course, it's my recommendation, you should have a helmet anytime you get on an ATV.
Cobie Rutherford: Yeah, I know. There are times that when, so my story, I had a Kawasaki Bayou 2-10 growing up and that thing would go, it would fearly fly. And of course, uh,
John Long: Is that one fairly jacked up, kind of high.
Cobie Rutherford: It kind of was, but it wasn't racing one, we used it on the farm and, uh, I would just take off and full speed ahead and, uh, one time I flipped it and, uh, I actually cracked a couple ribs, but, uh, you know, I just, I didn't have on a helmet and it could have been a lot worse, but it's something we didn't think about growing up.
John Long: Yeah, we didn't, we definitely didn't think about it. You know, when riding and all, I don't, I guess the term of limitations is going out on right, getting a ticket. But I mean, we rode them all over public roads, too, and didn't think anything about it, you know, and, the funny thing was, is our parents let us do it, you know?
Cobie Rutherford: Right.
John Long: It's just strange, you know, looking, like Brad said, I don't know why, but looking back...
Brad Staton: ...just never crossed our mind.
John Long: Right.
Brad Staton: You know, to jump in with the, the wrecking stories, I think, I think was my goal in life to wreck in every possible way when I was growing up, we, I, I got one stuck in a tree and we had to cut the tree down to get the four wheeler out. That's a long story. I won't go over it right now.
John Long: I want to hear that one, when we're off air.
Announcer: One day y.
John Long: May not be suitable for air. I don't know. Um, so how large is the ATV safety course in the United States? It's a large...
Brad Staton: Yeah, it's large. Uh, you know, based on, you know, when I got trained, I had to go out to Oklahoma for a week to get trained, you know, to teach these classes. And we had people from all over the United States, you know, uh, we had a guy from Oklahoma, Florida, Arkansas, you know, I can't remember where all everybody was from, but I think everybody in the class was from a different state.
John Long: Right.
Brad Staton: So, you know, in every state kinda varies in their, their methods of, you know, their, uh, programming.
John Long: Right, right. And you and I were talking this morning about, um, the, the length of that course and it being a week long. And I asked you if it was much classroom time and you said...
Brad Staton: ...no, we didn't spend much time in the classroom. Uh, we'd meet in the class every morning, you know, kind of go over some non-writing top things, you know, how to go into schools and, and get our message across. But now most of the, most of the 40-hour a week or they advertise 40 hours is actually about 60 hours a week.
John Long: Right.
Brad Staton: But, uh, most of that week was riding four wheelers. We either taught classes or we were the Guinea pigs while other instructors were teaching classes.
John Long: And that goes back to like 4-H to learn by doing.
Brad Staton: Right. Yeah, that's exactly what that was. The model. No, teach the teachers.
John Long: Exactly. Exactly. So with the certification, could you kind of walk us through like your, how you do courses? I know there's kinda like maybe two different type courses you do. I'm talking about as far as the, I know you were telling that doing like a rider course and then being certified to teach or, ... talk about that.
Brad Staton: The two main courses that ASI provides, which like I said, that's the ATV safety Institute. It's all the big manufacturers, Honda, Yamaha, Kawasaki, whatnot. They all went together and formed this entity that you know, uh, promotes ATV safety across the nation. Uh, basically they have two levels of courses. Uh, there's the e-course, which is an online computer, uh, course it takes about two hours to complete, uh, that gets you familiar with just the basics of ATV safety and you know, what an ATV is and that kind of thing. And then after you complete the eCourse, you can take the rider course, which is a, a hands-on, you know, half-day class where we put you on an obstacle course with an ATV, and we teach you how to, how to ride it safely and have fun at the same time.
John Long: I took, I think I took mine, the rider course, about 11 years ago, and I won't tell you what that was. I don't know how long we were out there, but I had dirt all over me, and I was worn out. I mean, it was, it was very physically taxing on me.
Brad Staton: Yeah. People don't go ahead.
Announcer: From an adult standpoint, did you take something away from that course, that training? I mean, what did you learn new?
John Long: Well, I can tell you this, that, um, I learned that there was a lot of things that I weren't, but I was not doing that I needed to be doing. Normally. And I think Brad, we'll touch on the equipment in a minute. I had probably never worn probably 90% of the, the stuff that, that we were required to wear during the course. And the, I liked the mechanical issues, you know, how are you talking about check this and this every time you got on. That was something I'd never, never done either. So, but it was, it was a lot of um, maneuvering and just kind of experiencing, you know, it was just a different experience for sure. Interesting. What about Brad? What, tell him about equipment. Tell us, tell us about the equipment that's required when you go do the rider course.
Brad Staton: Okay. So for my rider course, I require all my students to have, you know, proper gear and then we start off with a helmet and you know, I won't let anybody on a four Wheeler without a helmet. Right. Um, you know, it needs to be a DOT-approved helmet. So like I joke around with my, my kids when I do safety days, you know, bicycle helmets, football helmets, they're just not good enough. You need a real DOT-approved helmet. You know, it's approved for the crash that you potentially could have in the speeds that you'd be traveling on the forehead.
John Long: Right. And I am going to just stop right here. We had advisory ATV advisory council. This, this last week one was it,
Brad Staton: It was Monday.
John Long: I'm telling you, this is crazy. It's been a long week... but anyway, um, and it's for good reason too, I guess, right? Uh, with Congress coming up. But anyway, we had an ATV advisory council, and I found out a very fascinating fact that I never knew before. Cobie, let me ask you this. Yeah. How many times can you drop a helmet on the ground before it becomes ineffective or are that you should not wear it anymore?
Cobie Rutherford: Well,
John Long: I mean high,
Cobie Rutherford: I would say several times, but my, my gut tells me that if you drop it once, it's probably compromised the integrity of it...
John Long: That's correct. And Brad, and tell us why that is. I could not believe that
Brad Staton: It's not necessarily you look for cracks on the outside of the shell. You know, that's what most people would think if you drop it, and it didn't crack, it should be good. But it's the internal components of the helmet, the foam and whatnot, uh, that could get out of out of line or compressed and never, never really gain that. Uh, foaminess back
John Long: Or protective. Protecting your, your uh egg there.
Brad Staton: Exactly. So yeah, if you drop your helmet once or you know, especially if you have a crash, you should replace that helmet. That's the recommendation.
John Long: That is that, that really, like I said, surprised me because, and it re..., And I'll tell you another thing is it teaches if you're gonna have your kids on an ATV, you need to be careful that they understand that, you know, cause here I am, I'm old and I never knew that. So yeah.
Cobie Rutherford: I mean, how many people were tell us in their helmets, in the backs of the trucks are.
John Long: exactly.
Cobie Rutherford: on the concrete when they get home. Just toss it in the garage.
John Long: Yeah, exactly. So what else, what else did you have there? We talk helmet and then I'm a, I'm sorry, I interrupted.
Brad Staton: So like I said, helmets, the number one most important piece of equipment. Uh, I preach that all the time. Uh, and then, you know, we go into eye protection next. Uh, you know, if you can't see, you can't drive.
John Long: Right.
Brad Staton: So, you know, they make goggles that slip over the helmets or you know, even safety glasses will work and you know, shatterproof safety glasses. Just something to protect your eyes from the bugs, you know, dirt, whatever that that may make cause you not to be able to see while you're riding.
John Long: People don't think about that, but you just think about like if you're riding whatever, and it's like going down the road and you hit a bug with the windshield, you know, it makes a big splat and you imagine if that hit your eye that you could probably blind you.
Brad Staton: Well, I'll, I'll tell you a real quick story about why I'm a believer in eye protection. We were actually riding four wheelers up in Alabama in the mountains of Alabama, so to speak. Uh, and the guy in front of me broke a chain on his four wheeler.
John Long: Oh.
Brad Staton: And I ended up getting hot sparks in my eye and I had to go to the doctor and have them removed.
John Long: Oh goodness. Right. So yeah.
Brad Staton: Ever since then, I'm a firm believer in, you know, eye protection, right.
John Long: Guarantee you. It's what I say in a 4-H safety. Uh, you only got two and you got to take care of them so you don't get you don't get another one. So, all right. So, uh, we talked about that and then what else?
Brad Staton: Okay. Um, and I'll be a little quicker on these other ones. Um, you know, you've got your head protection, your eye protection, the next thing you want to protect is your hands. Uh, you know, wear a good pair of gloves that gives you a good grip on the, on the ATV in case your hands get sweaty or whatever it's wet. And it also, you know, will protect you from briars or you know, branches or stuff like that, if you're driving through, you know, uh, some vegetation or whatnot, right? And then, uh, go on along, I would say long sleeves and long pants both for, you know, protection from limbs, briars, that kind of thing. Or if you did fall off, it's gonna protect you, you know, keep you from getting that road rash type injuries.
John Long: Right..;
Brad Staton: And then, uh, you know, another thing about the long pants, you know, you're sitting on top of the motor. So if you've got short's on, and you barely touched that muffler or the motor on either side, you know, that's an instant burn.
John Long: Right.
Brad Staton: But then you think, well, what if I flipped and I've got short's on, and I'm stuck under this for even 30 seconds. It could be, you know, go from just a little burn to a pretty severe burn, pretty quick.
John Long: Major, major.
Brad Staton: And then the last thing I recommend is where, you know, over the ankle, closed-toed shoes. And that's basically the same reason you want to protect your feet. Uh, you know, both from being burned and from, you know, abrasion type injuries,
John Long: Right. Right. Well with, um, with all of that and you know, some people saying, Oh, well, I don't want to wear that because it's so hot and you know, and all this stuff and, you know, I can drive and I don't hear a lot, you know, people say, well, I've been driving my whole life, you know. Well, it's just like anything, if you lose respect for it can hurt you. So,
Cobie Rutherford: ...that's right.
John Long: Um, I actually, uh, have come up on, in my life, we've come up on two, uh, ATV accidents where fatalities occurred. Both of those were when they were riding them on paved roads and both of them had multiple riders. So what do we preach in, in, uh, in your course Brad?
Brad Staton: So, in my view, both of those are, a no-no, uh, ATVs are not designed to ride on the road. Uh, you know, the way that, the way they're set up the tires and whatnot, they don't handle as good on the road. It's really easy to flip, especially at higher speeds. And then I'll, you know, on top of that you've got cars, trucks, 18 wheelers on the roads as well. They're not looking for ATVs, they're too small. And by the time they see you it's usually too late. And then, um, as far as multiple passengers, you know, 99% of the ATVs out there are designed for one person only. If you look at the stickers, there'll be two or three, four stickers on, on one ATV that, that says something to the effect of no passengers. And the reason behind that, you know, the seat is really big. Everybody thinks, you know, let's just pile as many people on here. But to truly be in control of your ATV, you need to be able to move around on that seed and shift your weight, you know, depending on where the turn is or if there's a hill or, or whatnot. Right. So that, that whole seat is yours. You don't have enough room to share it with someone else.
John Long: Right. And you, you may not realize it until it's too late.
Brad Staton: Right. And you know, when I talked to the kids about riding double like that, uh, you know, so you've got somebody on the back, what are they going to hold on to? Well, most likely they're going to hold onto the driver. So if the person on the back falls off, guess who's going with them?
Cobie Rutherford: Yeah, that's a good point.
John Long: Person controlling the thing.
Cobie Rutherford: Right. I never thought about that.
John Long: Well, I, I'm fascinated by the fact that, um, the program or, uh, that your classes are open to a wide audience. So how, how wide open I, how old do you have to be, I guess in order to take the rider course?
Brad Staton: To take the rider course. Uh, you need to be six years old and up. You know, we can do classes with families or we can do classes with, you know, similarly-aged kids. I don't like to, you know, have a six year old and a 16 year old in the same class. You know, you just teach differently and you know, their, their levels of control on the ATVs are different, are different too. So, uh, you know, I like to keep my classes kind of the same age range, but we go, you know, like I said, ages six and up.
John Long: Even into adult.
Brad Staton: Yeah. Even into adults. Yeah. I've done several classes where, you know, a whole family comes out. We do mom, dad, you know, brother, sister, cousin, whatever, you know, everybody in the same class.
John Long: That's cool.
Cobie Rutherford: And do these families that participate bring their own ATV?
Brad Staton: Uh, I have had people bring their own. Uh, we're lucky enough right now to where I've got several different sized ATVs that are, that are owned by Mississippi State and 4-H, so if you don't have one that you can bring, then you know, a lot of times we can supply it. Uh, like I said, I've got different, different sizes for different aged kids, so I'll make sure every person is on an ATV that fits them. Uh, now should you want to bring your own, that's perfectly fine. Uh, I would just have to inspect at first, I want to make sure you got, you've got working breaks and whatnot before I'd let you, you know, participate in the obstacle course.
John Long: You don't want to bring your six year old up there and it's got like a 16 and older sticker on it.
Brad Staton: Exactly. Exactly. It's gotta be an age appropriate ATV. That was a good point.
Cobie Rutherford: Gotcha. Well that's a, it makes it pretty inclusive for anybody that wants to participate in this program. They have a chance to do that.
John Long: And it's, it's so cool cause it goes right along again because it is 4-H, it's youth development because we don't, it's just like in 4-H S.A.F.E.T.Y., you don't put a shotgun in hands of an eight-year-old. So you put, you put it in the appropriate size, even the physical ability that, that the young individual has.
Brad Staton: And along with that youth development note, we also, you know, when we teach the class, we're not just talking about riding ATVs,
John Long: Right.
Brad Staton: We're talking about respect the environment, respect, you know, the local laws, other people that may be on the trails, other people's property, that kind of thing as well. So we, you know, it's, it's not just driving, we're, we're trying to do a holistic approach, I guess.
John Long: Right. What was the, I think I saw one time, it was one of the slides and said mud holes don't ride through them or something. Rather tempting to...
Brad Staton: It kinda just depends, you know, if you're on a public trail,
John Long: Right, right.
Brad Staton: You know, you're not supposed to leave that trail to make your own mud hole. If you're on somebody's private property and they don't mind you making a mud hole. Hey, have fun.
John Long: Yeah. Knock yourself out. That's right. That's funny man. Well, all right. I think like we've about wrapped it up and, Cobie, you got anything else?
Cobie Rutherford: No, I sure appreciate Brad taking his time out to educate us some of ATV safety.
John Long: It's awesome to have you again sometimes.
Brad Staton: Yeah, it'd be fun. Um, if you do want some more information about our rider course or our e-course, just contact your local Extension agent. Uh, they can help you. And you know, kind of what we do is I do classes on demand. When I have enough people in one county that's, that want to take a class, I'll, I'll load my trailer up and come on down, and we'll do a class. So just co contact your local Extension agent for more information.
John Long: Yeah. And you can also go to, uh, extension.msstate.edu. I think I said that right.
Cobie Rutherford: Yeah, that's right.
John Long: And go to click on 4-H, and then if you scroll down, you'll see 4-H Safety. And then when you open that up, you'll see ATV safety, and then you'll see 4-H S.A.F.E.T.Y, which AKA shooting sports. So Brad and I kind of share the safety safety. Right?
Brad Staton: That's right.
John Long: So anyway. Well, good. Well, thank you so much Brad, and we appreciate you coming in and uh, y'all remember to get out and have fun and ride safe. Keep it 4-H.
Brad Staton: yep, sounds good.
Cobie Rutherford: Until next time.
John Long: Alright, that's right. We'll see you next time.
Announcer: Thanks for joining us for 4H4U2. For more information, please visit extension.msstate.edu, and be sure to subscribe to our podcast. 4H4U2 is produced by the Mississippi State University Extension Service, Office of Agricultural Communications.