Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Reminder for OHV riders: Helmets are required for kids under 18 when operating or riding on an OHV

DOT-approved full-face helmets are recommended ...

New helmet safety poster will be distributed to 250 OHV dealers statewide. (Click on image to enlarge)

Hi all,

One of the educational initiatives for the Idaho Off-Highway Vehicle Outreach Campaign this year is to remind parents and OHV dealers that Idaho state law requires kids under the age of 18 to wear a helmet when riding or operating an OHV. The law has been on the books for six years; compliance appears to be low.

"Wearing a helmet when you're riding an OHV is not only common sense and a good idea, it's the law for kids under the age of 18," says Troy Elmore, OHV Program Manager for the Idaho Department of Parks and Recreation.

According to the Consumer Products Safety Commission, wearing a helmet when operating or riding on an OHV can reduce the risk of death in an accident by 42 percent.

Statewide, since 2001, there have been about 20 accidents involving kids on OHVs each year on Idaho's public roads, according to records from the Idaho Department of Transportation. In 2003 and 2004, there were 34 accidents in each of those years.

As part of an effort to increase public awareness of the helmet requirements for Idaho kids, the Idaho OHV Public Outreach Campaign and IDPR are handing out posters that include the message: "Use Your Brain - Always Wear a Helmet." The posters will be distributed to 250 OHV dealers in Idaho in early June.

Even though Idaho state law was changed six years ago to include the helmet requirements in hopes of saving lives and reducing injuries, public lands officials in the state have noticed that the law receives low compliance. They are hoping that with some increased publicity and outreach, compliance will improve.

"We want everyone to have a safe riding season in 2011," Elmore said. "You can't ever anticipate when an accident is going to occur, so the safest approach is to wear a helmet."

IDPR officials recommend that OHV riders wear DOT-approved full-face helmets for the best effectiveness, and to be sure that helmets fit properly.

"Helmets are normally comprised of four elements -- a rigid outer shell, a crushable liner, chin straps or a retaining system and fit or comfort padding," notes Richard Gummersall, OHV education coordinator. "The rigid outer shell, when present, adds a load-spreading capability, and prevents objects from penetrating the helmet. It's kind of like an additional skull.

"The liner, usually made of EPS (expanded polystyrene) or similar types of materials, absorbs the energy of an impact by crushing. The chin strap when properly buckled and adjusted along with the fit padding helps the helmet remain in position during a crash."

Here is the full text from Idaho Code 49-666: Motorcycle, motorbike, UTV and ATV safety helmets -- Requirements and standards. No person under eighteen (18) years of age shall ride upon or be permitted to operate a motorcycle, motorbike, utility type vehicle or an all-terrain vehicle unless at all times when so operating or riding upon the vehicle he is wearing, as part of his motorcycle, motorbike, UTV or ATV equipment, a protective safety helmet of a type and quality equal to or better than the standards established for helmets by the director, except the provisions of this section shall not apply when such vehicles are operated or ridden on private property, or when used as an implement of husbandry.

Please spread the word!

Thanks and have a safe ride.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Many trails, campgrounds will not be accessible for Memorial Day Weekend in Idaho

Hi all,

As one might expect after the long winter and heavy snow in the mountains of Idaho, many roads, trails and camping areas are still snow-bound, and other areas are wet and muddy.

Probably the best bet for Memorial Day weekend is to head for lower-elevation recreation areas that are free of snow. Be sure to check with local Forest Service, BLM or Idaho Department of Parks and Recreation offices to check on conditions before you go.

Here are links to Memorial Day press releases from various national forests:
  • Boise National Forest - "Visitors will find many areas, including roads, trails and campgrounds still heavily impacted with snow this Memorial Day weekend, and many areas above 6,000 feet may be inaccessible" ... (click national forest link for full story).
  • Panhandle National Forests - "Snow-covered access roads, muddy campsites and saturated terrain are combining to delay the opening of several popular national forest campgrounds in the Coeur d’Alene area. Five of the nine campgrounds managed by the Coeur d’Alene River Ranger District on the Idaho Panhandle National Forests are impacted by the lingering winter weather and are expected to delay their opening for up to two weeks."
  • Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forest - "It’s been a cold, damp spring on the Nez Perce – Clearwater National Forests, but with Memorial Day Weekend – and the promise of better weather – just around the corner, Old Man Winter is finally starting to loosen his icy grip on the backcountry. There are plenty of great reasons to enjoy a getaway to Idaho’s “Big Wild”; what are you waiting for?"
  • Sawtooth National Forest - "Recreationists planning on visiting the Sawtooth National Forest over the Memorial Day Weekend will find that there are a limited number of campgrounds available for the holiday. Due to the lingering snowpack, a number of campgrounds, roads and trails will be closed."
  • Caribou-Targhee National Forest - "Memorial Day weekend signals the start of the camping and recreating season in this part of the world. Before traveling to the forest, Caribou-Targhee National Officials remind visitors to keep in mind the following information."
  • Salmon-Challis National Forest - "According to the current Motor Vehicle Use Maps for districts on the Salmon-Challis National Forest, most of the seasonal motorized route open periods begin May 22. However, many Forest Service roads and trails at mid- and high- elevations remain impassable (closed) due to snow conditions.
  • BLM Idaho Falls-Pocatello area - "Southeast Idaho may be flooding with cold and rainy weather, but hardy campers are still looking to enjoy the outdoors on the public lands. “Calls have been ‘pouring’ in with people wondering whether campgrounds are open,” said Chuck Patterson, outdoor recreation planner for the BLM Pocatello Field Office (PFO). “The answer is yes they are.” He cautioned that accessing campgrounds could be problematic because of poor road conditions or local road closures."

Statewide, the BLM announced Friday that Most Bureau of Land Management (BLM) campgrounds throughout Idaho are open and ready for Memorial Day weekend; however, rainy weather and wet conditions have prompted some campground closures. BLM recreation planners suggest that recreationists check local road and weather conditions, visit Idaho BLM’s website, www.id.blm.gov, or contact their local BLM office before heading out this weekend.

"Before leaving for the Memorial Day weekend, recreationists may benefit from contacting their local BLM office for the latest BLM recreation site status,” said BLM Outdoor Recreation Planner Terry Heslin. “We plan to have many sites open and ready for campers, but there are a few throughout Idaho that may be closed due to high water conditions or unfit roads.”

The following BLM sites are closed until further notice:

Eastern Idaho - Pipeline and Snake River Vista campground boat ramps along the Snake River, below the American Falls Dam, are closed. River flows are too dangerous for boat launching, as the flow is moving more than five times beyond its normal speed. For more information, please contact Chuck Patterson at 208-478-6362.

Northern Idaho - Blackwell Island Public Boat Launch on Lake Coeur d’Alene will remain closed until high water subsides enough to allow the boat launch facility to be used. The launch facility is currently under two feet of water.

BLM’s Windy Bay site is also under about eighteen inches of water. If the water continues to rise as high as expected, foot access into Mica Bay Boater Park will be under water as well.

Heslin suggests using caution while traveling on muddy roads. “Even though some Idaho BLM campgrounds are well established, many roads leading to them are muddy and could pose safety hazards, which can make accessing campgrounds problematic,” he said. “Recreationists can also cause significant resource damage by traveling, hiking, biking or operating off-road vehicles on muddy roads.”

Have a great weekend!