Military News

Thursday, June 18, 2015

ATV safety course prepares riders for all terrain

by Airman Christopher R. Morales
JBER Public Affairs

6/18/2015 - JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaksa -- The state of Alaska has only a handful of paved roads and highways in its 586,000 square miles, making off-road transportation very practical for many off-duty activities.

Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson's Outdoor Recreation centers offers a recurring all-terrain vehicle safety course during the summer for service members and civilians on base to acquire their ATV Safety Institute certification card, so they can ride legally on base.

"The ATV safety course is not only to allow access to ride on base, but it also teaches proper riding habits," said Tyler Glenn, director of JBER Outdoor Recreation.

"The safety class is not necessary to attend the ATV off-base trips we provide, but is encouraged for less-experienced riders."

The maximum number of students in a class is eight, so reserving a spot may be necessary.

The course costs $5 if the students brings an ATV and all the safety equipment (eye protection, full-fingered gloves, long pants, long-sleeved shirt, over-the-ankle hard-sole shoes or boots and a reflective vest), but $50 if an ATV needs to be provided.

The ATV organized trips work similarly. Fees differ, but pay to cover ATV use and all necessary safety equipment. Providing personally owned essential gear and an ATV will lower the cost.

Leading the classes this year is Bob Braun, general equipment repair technician and ATV safety instructor for the Outdoor Recreation Center with the 673d Force Support Squadron - classes are at the Hillberg Ski Resort unless otherwise posted.

"I started riding [ATVs] around 1993 and have been teaching this course for over five years here," Braun said. "I'm licensed to teach this course anywhere in the United States."  Generally all are welcome to take these classes because the main thing is safety, learning the capabilities of their vehicle," Braun said.

The safety courses include step-by-step introduction to the vehicle and general control like any other driving test, Braun said.

Students will properly learn to start, stop, turn, swerve, ride over obstacles and traverse steep hills.The course gives riders the skills necessary to safely operate the vehicles and to quickly react in an emergency situation.

ATVs are useful for adventure, but they can serve a larger operational purpose in the military.

Service members use ATVs for perimeter checks, security details, and general transportation in deployed missions.

In 2013 there were three confirmed injuries on JBER due to off-road accidents; two of those happened on ATVs.

The number may be miniscule compared to 100,000 ATV injuries in 2012 all over Alaska, but they are accidents that could've been avoided had the riders employed skills such as those taught in the course.

Whether it's a ride on base with a friend or an organized trail ride with a group, ATVs can take you there and get you back, but only if you know how.

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