Jan. 21, 2008 – A way to promote ATV safety

In late December, one of the largest Kentucky daily newspapers published a map showing 2007 ATV fatalities, with a mass of blue pins showing the locations of fatal accidents.
About the same time, an online legal site was penning an Internet press release that among other things told U.S. consumers how to locate an ATV accident law firm.
Clearly, the issue of ATV safety, particularly youth safety, remains in the forefront among the media and legal circles in the United States.
To get ahead of the issue and become a more prominent voice for ATV safety steps, dealers might consider an educational program run by the National Off-Highway Vehicle Conservation Council (NOHVCC) that is supported by several industry players, including the Motorcycle Industry Council.
The program provides free books and CDs aimed at helping young children who are entering the sport. Dealers only have to pay for the shipping of the products, which can act either as point-of-purchase material or giveaway items for an area powersports event. There is no other cost to the dealer.
“We would strongly encourage dealers to take advantage of it,” NOHVCC Executive Director Russ Ehnes said of the “Adventure Trail” program, which was started in 2005 and is now being supported by more industry companies, allowing for a larger number of books and CDs to be available.
So far, dealers have made up less than 10 percent of the users of the program, Ehnes estimated, noting the biggest users have come from the state level.
“It’s primarily ethics, safety and responsibility,” Ehnes said of the messages the Adventure Trail program carries. “Those are the three messages that come through loud and clear. To me, they all go hand and glove.”
The books, which are approximately 20 pages and have a slick, glossy cover, feature coloring pages, word finds and other elements geared to the young reader.
However, Ehnes says the NOHVCC staff has found a surprise additional reader when they hand it out at industry events.
“The parents spend more time looking at the pictures and reading the stuff than the kids do. And we didn’t really expect that,” he said. “We expected the kids would be really interested, which they certainly are. But the parents are taking it in too.”
Which is a terrific byproduct, Ehnes believes.
“I’m not sure how you feel about seatbelts,” he said, “but I’m firmly convinced that a great deal of us wear seatbelts because our kids encourage us to do so. And I believe OHV ethics and safety education is the same deal, that it’s hard to teach adults much. But when they hear it from their kids or they feel like they need to be a role model for their kids, that’s what makes a difference in adult behavior.”
Ehnes is hoping NOHVCC can take the program one step forward in the future.
“We would like to expand it into a program where we can reach out to the in-between aged kids,” he said. “This program really appeals to the younger kids, but it’s the teen-aged through early 20 years that are difficult to reach and that we’d like to expand into.
“Right now, we’re exploring the possibilities about how we might do that and of course we’re looking for willing partners to help us fund that because it’s not going to be cheap. We expect that next phase will probably be a higher technology, Internet-based media campaign.” psb

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