AZGFD to hold OHV sobriety checkpoint February 17

PHOENIX – The Arizona Game and Fish Department (AZGFD) will conduct an off-highway vehicle (OHV) sobriety checkpoint Saturday, February 17 on the Tonto National Forest north of Fountain Hills.

AZGFD is conducting the checkpoint to ensure public safety by detecting and deterring impaired operation of OHVs. Those using an OHV are reminded to use the following safety tips:

  • Never operate an OHV while impaired by alcohol or drugs.
  • Helmets are required by law for all riders under the age of 18 regardless of the off-highway vehicle type. However, they are strongly recommended for all riders.
  • Wear a seat belt at all times, if equipped.
  • Only carry the number of passengers recommended by the manufacturer for your vehicle. Often many accidents are the result of too many people riding a machine that was designed for fewer passengers.
  • Wear riding goggles, a long-sleeved shirt, pants, riding gloves and over-the-ankle boots.v
  • Never ride alone.
  • Be prepared and equipped with a map, a first aid kit, whistle and have basic tools on hand.
  • Stay on designated trails.
  • Take an OHV safety education course designed to teach off-road motorists how to ride safely and responsibly.

Remember, state law requires all OHVs in Arizona require a title, license plate and an OHV decal to operate on public and state trust lands.
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For more information about OHV use and safety course options, visit www.azgfd.gov/ohv.

Fatal Yuma County off-highway vehicle accident a reminder to practice OHV safety

PHOENIX — The Arizona Game and Fish Department reminds all off-highway vehicle (OHV) drivers and passengers to wear the proper safety gear, including a helmet, in the wake of a fatal accident that killed a 77-year-old Wellton, Arizona man Thursday.

The man lost control of the all-terrain vehicle (ATV) he was driving when he hit a rut in the roadway and was thrown from the vehicle, according to the Yuma County Sheriff’s Office, which investigated the crash. The man was not wearing a helmet and succumbed to his injuries at a local hospital.

“It’s critically important for all OHV drivers and passengers to always wear a helmet,” said Kim Jackson, AZGFD Off-Highway Vehicle Safety Education program manager. “Helmets save lives and all riders should make sure they are wearing one before heading out on the trails.”

Helmets are required by law for all riders under the age of 18 regardless of the off-highway vehicle type. However, they are strongly recommended for all riders. In addition riders should remember to:

  • Wear a seat belt at all times, if equipped.
  • Only carry the number of passengers recommended by the manufacturer for your vehicle. Often many accidents are the result of too many people riding a machine that was designed for fewer passengers.
  • Wear riding goggles, a long-sleeved shirt, pants, riding gloves and over-the-ankle boots.
  • Never ride alone.
  • Be prepared and equipped with a map, a first aid kit, whistle and have basic tools on hand.
  • Stay on designated trails.
  • Take an OHV safety education course designed to teach off-road motorists how to ride safely and responsibly.

For more information about the Arizona Game and Fish Department’s OHV program and safety course options, visit www.azgfd.gov/ohv.

Is an OHV part of your hunting strategy? Buckle up

PHOENIX — When hunting for big game, off-highway vehicles (OHVs) can be a key part of how hunters retrieve downed animals. In fact, sometimes it’s the only way to retrieve a harvested elk or bison. As hunters hit the trails on OHVs like side-by-sides, it’s important to buckle up if the vehicle is equipped with seatbelts.

Numerous fatal accidents this year have involved utility task vehicles (UTVs) that roll over and pin the operator underneath. Wearing a seatbelt is critical because it will help keep the operator and any passengers inside the UTV in the event of an accident.

“You wear your seatbelt when driving a car or truck, make that habit the same for operating an OHV,” said Josh Hurst, OHV law enforcement coordinator for the Arizona Game and Fish Department. “If your off-highway vehicle is equipped with seatbelts, there’s no reason to not take the simple step of buckling up. Stay in the vehicle, stay alive.”

And if your kids are joining you on the hunt, helmets are required for all OHV operators and passengers under the age of 18 (but they’re strongly recommended for everyone).

In addition to seatbelts and helmets, there are a few other considerations to keep in mind when combining hunting and OHVs:

  • It’s illegal to discharge a firearm from a motor vehicle, including OHVs.
  • Ask for permission before operating an OHV on private roads and trails.
  • Off-trail use on Arizona public lands is illegal, with the exception of specific areas for the retrieval of lawfully taken big-game animals. Consult with the land management agency responsible for the area to find out about the rules and regulations.
  • Share the road with others whether they’re hunters on foot, OHV recreationists or anyone enjoying Arizona’s outdoors.

Any acts of vandalism or habitat destruction can be reported 24/7 to the Arizona Game and Fish Department’s 1-800-VANDALS hotline. It’s helpful to provide a license plate number and description of both the OHV and operator as well as a location of the activity so law enforcement personnel can follow up on the information.

If the illegal take of wildlife is witnessed, the department encourages anyone with information to report it to the Operation Game Thief hotline at 800-352-0700 or visit www.azgfd.gov/ogt. The department pays cash rewards to individuals whose reports of wildlife crimes lead to an arrest.

Get more information about OHV education and safety as well as rules and regulations at www.azgfd.gov/ohv.

Survey looks to measure off-highway vehicle financial impact

PHOENIX — The popularity of off-highway vehicles (OHV) has exploded throughout the state and, Arizona State Parks and Trails and the Arizona Game and Fish Department are turning to OHV enthusiasts to help shape the future of the activity statewide.

With 365 riding days per year, scenic trails and great weather, Arizona continues to draw OHV enthusiasts from across the country to access our motorized trails. To better plan for the future of the activity statewide, Arizona State Parks and Trails partnered with Arizona State University to produce an economic impact study to measure the broad effect the activity has in our state.

“Having a better understanding of spending behaviors, travel trends and trail needs will aid State Parks and our partners to provide enhancements to the statewide trail system, programs, and information to OHV users,” said Skip Varney, State Parks State OHV Coordinator.

Over the next 12 months, the public is invited to complete a survey, either electronically at www.azstateparks.com/OHV or at various riding areas throughout the state. The questionnaire takes about 10 minutes to complete, however only completed surveys can be used in the reporting process.

“There are nearly limitless riding opportunities and Arizona offers some of the best views available,” said Nathan Gonzalez, AZGFD public information officer. “In addition to guiding future trail development, the results of this survey are vital to helping AZGFD anticipate current and future safety and education program needs. Our goal is to ensure our education methods are adequate to meet the needs of our growing OHV community.”

The economic impact study was last completed in 2002 and found that OHV recreation in Arizona had a $4.25 billion impact. In addition, the activity supported nearly 37,000 jobs, contributed to $1.1 billion in household incomes and added $187 million to annual state tax revenues.

To participate, please click here to complete the survey.

For more information on OHV riding in Arizona and to take an online safety course, visit www.azgfd.gov/OHV.

If an OHV is on the holiday list, don’t forget the safety gear

PHOENIX — Another year has passed and if a new off-highway vehicle (OHV) is in the cards this holiday season, the Arizona Game and Fish Department advises you to remember the wear the following equipment.

  1. A helmet. Whether riding in a side-by-side utility-type vehicle (UTV), all-terrain vehicle (ATV) or dirt bike, all riders younger than18 years old are legally required to wear a Department of Transportation-approved helmet. Helmets are strongly recommended for all riders older than 18.
  2. Eye protection, such as riding goggles, is legally required for all riders if the OHV is not equipped with a windshield.
  3. Riding gloves should be worn at all times to protect your hands while riding and enhance your grip while driving.
  4. Wear proper clothing, including a long-sleeve shirt, pants and over-the-ankle boots.

Register your OHV and purchase an OHV Decal. All vehicles designed primarily for travel on unimproved terrain and weighing less than 1,800 pounds are required to have a $25 OHV decal to operate on public and state lands. License plates and decals are available at any Arizona Motor Vehicle Division location or at www.servicearizona.com.

Take a safety course. Safety courses teach new and veteran riders the techniques needed to safely operate and ride an OHV, including the importance of shifting their weight, maintaining control of the machine, evasive breaking and maneuvers. For information on where to take a course or to take one online, visit www.azgfd.com/Education/OHV.

Always remember to supervise children under 16 years old and check to ensure your child is riding an age-appropriate vehicle. Machines may be too large and powerful for a child to safely operate. Parents are ultimately responsible for their children’s safety.

Riders should only carry the number of passengers for which the machine is designed. One of the biggest causes of OHV-related injuries is riding with more than the recommended number of passengers. Proper riding techniques require operators to shift their weight and change position to keep control of the machine. Carrying a passenger can make riding difficult and change how the vehicle responds.

For additional OHV safety information, visit www.azgfd.gov/ohv.

10 Tips for safe, responsible OHV riding during Labor Day weekend

DSC_4103_-_reduced_flippedPHOENIX — With the Labor Day weekend days away, the Arizona Game and Fish Department reminds residents and visitors looking to head outdoors on their off-highway vehicle (OHV) to do so safely and responsibly.

AZGFD officers and partner agencies will be seeking unsafe and reckless OHV operators this holiday weekend to ensure the safety of those riding responsibly.

Between July 1, 2015 and June 30, AZGFD officers issued 404 citations and issued 283 warnings statewide for multiple offences, including failing to have a current OHV decal sticker, allowing children under the age of 18 to ride without a helmet and made arrests for operating/driving while under the influence.

Before hitting the trail, the AZGFD asks all operators and passengers to pledge to ride safely by following these 10 tips:

Always wear a helmet. Whether riding in a side-by-side, all-terrain vehicle (ATV) or dirt bike, all riders younger than 18 years old are legally required to wear a Department of Transportation-approved helmet. Helmets are strongly recommended for all riders older than 18.
Eye protection is legally required for all riders if the OHV is not equipped with a windshield.
Wear proper clothing, including riding gloves, a long-sleeve shirt, pants and over-the-ankle boots.
Supervise children under 16 years old. Be sure young riders use an age-appropriate vehicle. Adult-sized machines may be too large and powerful for a child to safely operate. Adults are responsible for a child’s safety when it comes to OHV use.
Only ride with the number of passengers for which the machine is designed. One of the biggest causes of OHV-related injuries is riding with more than the recommended number of passengers. ProperTV riding techniques require operators to shift their weight and change position to keep control of the machine. Carrying a more passengers than recommended by the manufacturer greatly changes how the vehicle responds.
Stay on designated trails. One of the biggest threats to sustainable OHV recreation in Arizona is the closure of riding areas due to irresponsible use. Protect the state’s fragile natural resources, and your ability to visit such spots, by staying on designated trails and avoiding sensitive habitat areas.
Be prepared and equipped. Take area maps and guides, and have a compass, first aid kit, whistle, tire repair kit, tow rope or chain and other basic tools on hand. Also make sure to bring sunscreen, water and food.
Avoid drinking alcohol and/or drugs. Operating any vehicle under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs is always illegal, regardless of what type of vehicle you’re operating. Alcohol and drugs drastically impair a person’s judgement, responsiveness and ability to operate the machine safely.
Register your OHV and purchase an OHV decal. All vehicles designed primarily for travel on unimproved terrain and weighing less than 1,800 pounds are required to have an OHV Decal to operate on public and state land. License plates and decals are available at any Arizona Motor Vehicle Division location or at www.servicearizona.com.
Maintain your machine properly, especially the spark arrester and muffler. Arresters help to protect against sparking a wildfire and mufflers help to reduce the noise emitted by OHVs.

For more information about OHV riding in Arizona, including a list of locations to ride statewide, visit www.azgfd.gov/OHV.