Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Watch out for kids on forest roads

In the spirit of concern about the safety of all citizens, the U.S. Forest Service and Idaho Department of Parks and Recreation are working together to inform off-highway vehicle (OHV) users and passenger vehicle operators about traffic safety during the summer months when recreationists spread across Idaho’s public lands.

The agencies put out a news release prior to the July 4th weekend about watching out for young kids driving OHV's on forest roads. The release was similar to a warnings issued by the Forest Service last fall, urging hunters to watch out for kids on forest roads. Here is a YouTube video about that issue.

Off-highway vehicles include motorcycles, specialty off-highway vehicles (SOHVs), utility type vehicles (UTVs) and all-terrain vehicles (ATVs).

“Idaho Department of Parks and Recreation has recently stepped up its OHV safety training classes for the coming summer months to respond to the increased number of users on our public lands and to help ensure OHV users know the rules of the road,” said Idaho Parks and Recreation Director Nancy Merrill. “We encourage people to consider taking one of our free classes. The information presented in these classes will help our younger riders become better, more knowledgeable, and safer riders.”

The 2009 Idaho Legislature passed a law that includes a provision removing the requirement for individuals to have a driver’s license to operate off-highway vehicles on national forest system roads. According to Intermountain Regional Forester Harv Forsgren, the Forest Service is deeply concerned about the ramifications of untrained children on off-highway vehicles driving the same roads as passenger vehicles, recreation vehicles and logging and livestock trucks.

“During the summer, forest roads become crowded with cars, trucks pulling trailers, RVs, and larger vehicles including construction and logging trucks,” said Regional Forester Harv Forsgren. “OHV users – including unlicensed/underage users - and drivers of passenger vehicles will find themselves sharing many miles of National Forest roads in Idaho. Drivers of all vehicles should stay alert to this and drive defensively.”

Approximately 7,700 miles of National Forest System roads are open to passenger vehicles with about 700 miles either paved or two-lane. These are the type of roads where the Forest Service is most concerned for driver safety as travel speeds tend to be faster and drivers of passenger vehicles aren’t expecting to share the road with OHVs.

Be safe out there and watch out for kids on OHV's! Thank you!