MOULTRIE -- ATVs (all terrain vehicles) are common tools to many farmers, landowners and sportsmen. But the fact is, they can be very dangerous and even deadly if improperly and illegally operated.

Recent tragedies involving ATVs have prompted a Moultrie business to take action in the realm of public safety.

DeMott Tractor Company will offer an ATV safety training day from 9 a.m. until 2 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 8.

"We're not doing this to make sales," said owner Scott DeMott. "We're doing it to promote safety."

DeMott hopes to teach ATV operators to be safer and more responsible.

Georgia laws require that ATV operators wear helmets. Other safety equipment, such as chest protection, is available but not required by law.

ATV manufacturers recommend the larger models be ridden by only those 16 years and older.

Some companies do manufacture four-wheelers for younger children. DeMott said his company sells ATVs specifically for children age 6-12 and for those 12-16. These models have safety lanyards that shut down the ATV if the rider falls off. They also have devices to limit the speed of the vehicles.

ATVs are not allowed on public roads, as stated in most owner's manuals. The manuals also warn against having passengers and operating the vehicles while under the influence of alcohol, DeMott said.

A demo track will be set up for the safety training day so proper riding habits can be demonstrated.

Several injuries on four-wheelers occur in Colquitt County each year, Colquitt County Sheriff's Office Chief Investigator Hal Suber said recently. Sarah Pound, 16, of Columbus was killed last week after flipping a four-wheeler while visiting her grandparents in Colquitt County. A four-year-old Sparks boy died in April when his father was driving along Waites Road near Ellenton. Earlier this year, a local construction company owner, Ted Odom, was killed riding sand dunes in Albany when an ATV overturned onto him

Recently on a highway in Coffee County, five children were killed lwhen their ATV was hit by an oncoming driver on a county road.

"With the recent tragedies, it seemed like a good time for this (training day)," DeMott said.

The safety training day is free to all participants. For information, contact DeMott Tractor Company at 985-5006.

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