NORTHWOODS - Good drivers should follow the basic rules of the road: Don't drink and drive, wear a seatbelt, and follow the speed limit. For ATV and UTV drivers those same rules can apply, but DNR wardens also want people to consider some other factors.
So far in 2018 at least 19 ATV/UTV accidents resulted in a fatality.
"In 2017 we had a total of 27 fatal accidents in the state of Wisconsin," said DNR Conservation Warden James Jung.
None of those ATV/UTV accidents were in Oneida County, but this year is a different story.
"Just in Oneida County we've had four fatal accidents," said Jung.
In many of Wisconsin's fatal ATV UTV crashes so far this year, riders weren't wearing helmets or seatbelts. Jung said taking a simple safety measure can make the difference between life and death.
"There have been accidents or collisions where if they would've worn a helmet, or in an UTV… if they were wearing their seatbelts it certainly would've saved lives," said Jung.
"Young adults even older adults, they feel more comfortable and they just choose not to wear helmets," said Jung.
"I think you're going to see that everywhere in the state quite frankly," said Vilas County Supervisor Holly Tomlanovich. "It's a little bit like motorcycles, people just really feel it's their freedom to make that choice."
Tomlanovich is a member of the Vilas County Recreational Trails Safety Committee.
"What we do is we run public service announcements and we just keep an eye on what are the issues," said Tomlanovich.
She says providing information to the public is key to get riders to follow basic safety rules.
"Everyone riding in that UTV is required to have a seatbelt on, headlights on, and some of those things people just don't know," said Tomlanovich.
Jung agrees education is a must. All people born in or after 1988 are required to take an ATV/UTV safety class before riding.
"It's a specific class for these machines so that's important," said Jung.
Jung's final advice outside of wearing helmets and seatbelts: "Having headlights displayed on any town roads or after sunset, and obviously watch the alcohol consumption and speed," said Jung.
Wisconsin law requires riders under 18 years old to wear helmets on ATVs and UTVs.
If someone needs to take a safety course schedules are posted on the DNR website and people can also sign up for an online version of the class.