There were a lot of positive improvements in the 2018 North Dakota Department of Transportation crash report, including the increase of drivers wearing seatbelts, and accidents were down in the state overall.
But, crashes involving off-road vehicles went up by a little over 16 percent, including 73 injuries and 2 fatalities.
By DOT standards, off-road vehicles include off-highway vehicles, or OHVs, and snowmobiles.
The North Dakota Parks and Recreation Department said these vehicles are difficult to regulate because of how often they’re used on private farmland.
Children can actually operate an OHV as early as 12 with proper certification, and snowmobiles can be driven by 10-year-olds with parental supervision.
But once you have a driver’s license, certification is not required.
Parks and Recreation said OHVs are a big part of North Dakota’s pass times, and the issue is not the age, but the lack of safety measures taken.
“Being properly outfitted for riding, wearing your helmet and that is a law. If you’re under 18, you need to be wearing a safety helmet. And make sure that it has that DOT, Department of Transportation stamp on it, not just a bicycle helmet or anything. This is actually rated for an OHV,” explained Parks and Rec Dept. Motorized Recreation Coordinator Char Binstock.
The Parks and Recreation Department offers certification courses for OHVs and snowmobiles. Youth courses are completely covered by the JakeStar Program, a non-profit named after a young boy who died in an OHV crash.