AZGFD reminds outdoor enthusiasts to practice OHV, boating safety for July 4 celebrations
Posted July 2, 2019
PHOENIX — The Fourth of July holiday is near and many Arizonans will include outdoor recreation in celebration plans. If operating an off-highway vehicle (OHV) on roads and trails or boating our amazing waterways are part of your plans, the Arizona Game and Fish Department (AZGFD) urges everyone to put safety first.
Off-highway Vehicle Recreation
The Consumer Federation of America reports that most OHV fatalities occur in July, with the highest number of fatalities occurring on Independence Day. There are many actions operators of OHVs — like all-terrain vehicles, dirt bikes and side-by-sides — can take to ride safely and help ensure the safety of those around them:
- Wear a helmet. They’re required for all operators and passengers under the age of 18, but are strongly recommended for everyone.
- Buckle up! Every trip, every time. Wearing a seatbelt is critical because it will help keep the operator and any passengers inside the side-by-side in the event of an accident.
- Only carry the number of passengers recommended by the vehicle’s manufacturer. 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, first-aid kit and whistle and have basic tools on hand.
- Leave details about your trip (including who is going, where you’re going and when you expect to return) with a friend or family member who can follow up to ensure everyone made it home safely.
- Stay on designated trails.
It’s also advised that all OHV enthusiasts, whether new to the hobby or veteran riders, take a safety education course. Numerous online courses are designed to teach off-road motorists how to operate their vehicle safely and responsibly. As an added bonus, insurance companies may offer discounted rates for people who have completed an OHV safety class.
Boating while under the influence of alcohol continues to be a major factor in recreational boating deaths and accidents nationwide. In fact, the U.S. Coast Guard reported that alcohol was the top contributing factor in fatal boating accidents last year. Although the legal limit for operating a boat in Arizona is .08 blood-alcohol content, an operator is in violation of the law if they are found operating a watercraft while impaired to the slightest degree by alcohol and/or drugs.
When hailed by an officer on the water, the process is similar to being pulled over while driving a vehicle. Here’s what to expect:
- The operator must stop his or her boat immediately and allow the officer to pull up alongside it.
- The officer will ask to see the boat registration and the operator should be prepared to demonstrate that the required safety gear is available.
- There must be a U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jacket available for each person onboard, and children 12 and under must be wearing a life jacket.
- Boats 16 feet in length and longer are required to have a Type IV throwable flotation device on board that’s easily accessible.
- The operator also must be able to present the required number of fire extinguishers, which depends on the boat’s features like having an inboard engine or permanently installed fuel tanks.
- Officers will ask the operator if he or she has had any alcoholic beverages that day and will follow up with additional questions as needed.
For more information on riding an OHV or boating in Arizona, including taking online safety courses, visit www.azgfd.gov/education.