Tragic accident sheds light on safety issues

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, October 7, 2003

Tribune editorial staff

The tragic dune buggy accident that claimed the lives of two Kentucky men Sunday should remind us of how important safety is when operating such off-road vehicles.

With that in mind, the trails on which the men were riding should be closed until a barrier is put up. At the very least, the trails near the cliff from which the men plummeted to their deaths should be closed. A simple human error - mistaking the vehicle was in first gear when it was actually in reverse - led to a dreadful accident.

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As tragic as Sunday's accident was, it could have been worse. What if somebody had been walking in the area where the dune buggy fell? What if the vehicle ended up landing in the traffic traffic that was passing by on nearby U.S. 52?

Riding dune buggies and ATVs is a legitimate pastime in our area. Thousands of people do it, and most have safety in mind. If people use common sense, it is a fairly safe sport.

The two men who died Sunday could of very well been safety conscious, but as it turns out the slightest error turned into a tragedy. It is just not safe riding such vehicles in an area where a 173-foot cliff is present. A simple miscalculation on a turn could send a rider falling to his or her death.

Those who choose to ride recreational vehicles need to be aware of the consequences of a simple mistake. Hundreds of thousands of people are injured each year as the result of ATV accidents, and hundreds more die. According to the United States Consumer Products Safety Commission, there were 4,541 reported ATV-related deaths from 1982 to 2001.

Being responsible is the key. Know your equipment, follow all manuals of operation and take riders' safety courses.

Dune buggy and ATV enthusiasts need to have places to ride, but

these places should just be safe for not only the riders, but also innocent bystanders. It is tragedies such as this one that remind everyone why it is important to have more safe places for ATV riders to freely use their equipment.