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ATV safety top of mind for northern OPP this week

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ATV season is in full gear heading into June, and as part of ATV Safety Week, Ontario Provincial Police are emphasizing the importance of preparing for potential dangers that come with off-roading.

Const. Michelle Simard of the South Porcupine OPP said one of the most common oversights encountered by police is the lack of head gear.

“When we're out on the trails patrolling, we often see people without proper helmets, which greatly increases your risk of injury if something were to happen,” Simard said.

Helmets are an essential item for both new and experienced riders, said local ATV salesman Matt Arrigo.

“One of the biggest things is to make sure the helmet fits properly,” Arrigo said.

“Try it on. When you wiggle it around, you want to make sure that the helmet is not too loose and it's going to stay secure to your head. Typically, (you) don't want to be able to put a finger in the front, but you want to be able to put some fingers on the side.”

When choosing a helmet, Arrigo suggested riders consider their riding style. Closed-faced helmets provide optimal bug protection and better vision, but they compromise ventilation. On the other hand, open-faced helmets offered better ventilation but less protection against bugs and debris.

Arrigo also recommended bright colours to enhance visibility to others.

“People think that it's just not cool to wear a helmet, (but) it doesn't matter to them if you're the one hitting your head,” said Arrigo.

“Rider safety is important and there's a lot of head injuries with riding ATVs that people just don't take into consideration. There's a lot of skilled riders, experienced riders, but if that wears out and you have no luck, it all comes down to wearing a helmet and other safety gear.”

Simard also advised riders to be mindful of the terrain and to share their location with others.

“It could be muddy, it could be all these things, so it really has to take into consideration where you're riding,” said Simard.

“We want everybody to enjoy the trails safely.”

Other tips from police include refraining from drinking and driving and ensuring that all paperwork for their off-road vehicles is in order, as the police will be patrolling trails.

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