Summer means more and more Michigan residents and visitors are in the outdoors enjoying the state's abundant natural resources, and one of the more popular activities is off-road vehicle (ORV) riding.
Conservation officers with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources are reminding ORV enthusiasts to ride safely and legally this summer.
"With the holiday weekend approaching, we know more ORV riders will be out enjoying Michigan's designated trail system," said Lt. Andrew Turner, who leads the DNR's recreation safety program. "We want all riders to have a fun and safe experience, and that is why we want to remind them of some important safety information."
Lt. Turner offered the following tips and guidelines for ORV riders:
-As with any vehicle, do not drink and drive.
- Know your ORV - study your owner's manual and become familiar with your vehicle's features. Know where they are located without having to look at them.
- Wear a helmet. While Michigan law recently changed to give motorcycle riders the option not to wear a helmet, the law does not apply to ORV riders. Also wear eye protection, such as goggles, or have a face shield on your helmet.
-Wear gloves and other proper clothing, including boots, long pants and long-sleeved shirts.
- Only have a passenger ride with you if your ORV is designed to accommodate a passenger.
-Do not operate your vehicle at excessive speeds.
- Do a pre-ride check of your vehicle to make sure it is in proper working order. Pay close attention to the tires, making sure they aren't low and don't have a leak. Low tire pressure can cause handling issues for your ORV.
- Know your trail - study the map for where you are riding and become familiar with where the sharp curves are located.
- Know where you're riding - before heading out, make sure you know whether or not the county you're riding in allows ORV use on county roads. Do not mistake state forest roads for county roads. Contact the county clerk's office where you want to ride and request a plat book that shows county roads for each township. The DNR also keeps updated ORV maps on its website at www.michigan.gov/orvtrails.
- ORVs are primarily designed for off-road use. Driving on paved surfaces is hazardous because of handling issues. Riding on paved roads is the leading cause of ORV-related fatalities.
For a complete overview of ORV rules and regulations in Michigan, go to the Michigan ORV Handbook online at www.offroad-ed.com/michigan/handbook/book.html.
While out riding, those who encounter anyone violating land use rules for ORVs are asked to call the DNR's Report All Poaching law enforcement line at 1-800-292-7800.