Putting power and speed in young hands

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Putting power and speed in young hands

Postby Micronaut » Mon Jul 04, 2005 5:49 pm

Take steps before turning kids loose with fast rides
Putting power and speed in young hands requires training and parental supervision

http://www.detnews.com/2005/lifestyle/0 ... 229857.htm

By Christy L. Breithaupt / Special to The Detroit News

With hot weather here, families are spending more time outdoors, enjoying dirt bikes, Jet Skis, four-wheelers and motorcycles. The machines can be fun for the whole family, but their power also makes them a safety risk.
That's why Charles Terrell of St. Clair Shores is such a stickler for safety when it comes to his children riding anything with speed. Terrell, a father of four, is general manager of Rosenau Powersports in Dearborn Heights.
"Kids need to be supervised at all times. Just because they're acclimated to the vehicle doesn't mean you can turn and walk away when they're using them," he says. "I think that's the biggest mistake people make."
And mistakes do get made. Over the years, Sue Jane Smith, a registered nurse and trauma coordinator for Children's Hospital of Michigan, has seen scores of injuries related to use of the vehicles.
"If you use common sense, a lot of these injuries can be minimized," she says. "Just follow the rules. For ATVs and dirt bikes, kids need to have a motorcycle helmet, not a bike helmet. They are around $150 but your child's life is worth much, much more than that."
Put safety first
Take these steps to protect your kids this summer.
All vehicles
Do proper maintenance before each ride--you don't want your child to get stranded in the middle of a lake or on a trail. Make sure the battery is charged, check the tire pressure, gas level, mirrors and lights.
Personal watercraft
• In Michigan, you can operate a personal watercraft at age 12 if you are riding with a parent and operating a personal watercraft with a lanyard-type ignition safety switch. You may operate a personal watercraft at age 14 without a parent if you have a boating-safety certificate.
• Make sure your child is a strong swimmer before allowing her on a Jet Ski alone or with someone other than yourself.
• You and your children should always wear a properly fitted lifejacket.
• At gatherings, talk about safety with everyone who is going to ride a Jet Ski. Before letting your child ride with someone, make sure the person is well-trained.
• When riding with your children on a Jet Ski, put small children in front of you.
• Check the personal watercraft and boating rules for the lake you'll be riding on.
Mopeds, dirt bikes, motorcycles and ATVs
• For ATVs, such as four-wheelers, children over 6 and younger than 16 must take a state-approved course and be able to present a certificate of completion to a law enforcement officer.
• Small children need to be in an open field with nothing to run into when they're learning. Take only experienced children on trails.
• Children should wear proper safety gear. Get them wear footwear with ankle coverage (preferably a boot), a proper helmet, gloves, a long sleeve shirt and jeans.
• Don't let children race in a field or on a trail. If children want to race, sign them up for organized, sanctioned race events.
• Understand the machine you buy for your child. Most salespeople will be happy to explain features in detail. Most starter vehicles (those that are 50ccs) have a switch allowing you to start your children out slow as they learn and gradually increase the speed.
• Children must be at least 15 to drive a moped. A valid moped, operator's or chauffeur's license is required to drive a moped on public roads. A valid operator's or chauffeur's license with a motorcycle endorsement is required to ride a motorcycle on public roads.
• It is against the law to carry a passenger on a moped.
• Teenagers are required to take a motorcycle-safety class before they will be endorsed to ride. The safety class is also a good idea for adults and can help the whole family learn to ride safer.
Sources: Charles Terrell of Rosenau Powersports; Nancy Cain of AAA; and Kelly Chesney, director of communications for the Michigan Secretary of State.
Christy L. Breithaupt is a Metro Detroit freelance writer.
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