ATV riders: Cracked helmets mean safe noggins

The number of ATV accidents hit a high during the summer months like this, when more people are outside. Those accidents can be traumatic - and even deadly.

KHQA's Melissa Shriver has what you need to know to stay safe this summer.

Staying safe on ATVs begins with the right gear. That's the word from Jeff Waterman, co-owner of Outdoor Power in Quincy.

" To stay safe you really need a helmet and chest protector. It will protect your chest, back and spinal cord in case you do fall off," Waterman said.

At Blessing Hospital in Quincy, last year, 17 percent of all overall trauma related accidents in the emergency room were ATV accidents. Elizabeth Huenefedlt is a registered nurse there. She says that's a huge percentage, considering most ATV accidents occur during the three months of summer.

"We typically expect the worst. You normally will see closed head trauma which is concussions to debilitating brain bleeds," Huenefedlt said.

Gloves, boots and some kind of eye wear is also recommended, while long sleeves and pants can protect against road rash as well as scratches and cuts.

Remember to adhere to all safety information ... most is listed on your ATV.

" Most ATVs are only designed for one person," Waterman said. "They do make some ATVs for two but the bulk of them, are for one person only."

And follow the rules. The most accidents happen when too many people are riding an ATV not designed for multiple people or when people are illegally sharing the road with regular cars and trucks. Also know the area you're riding in and don't consume alcohol when operating an ATV.

"My best advice is to take an operator course before getting on an ATV. Use the correct size of machine for the person and wear the right protective gear. And don't try anything that is above your skill level," Huenefedlt said.

Experts also suggest not riding at night and being familiar with the area you're riding in.