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Cpl. Thomas Mango, left, and Staff Sgt. Darrin Minderman practice turning at Fortuna Wash in Yuma, Ariz., on June 17, 2009, during the first basic all-terrain vehicle riders course held by the safety department at the Marine Corps Air Station in Yuma. The course taught Marines who ride ATVs techniques to improve their riding abilities as well as how to lessen their impact to the environment.

Photo by Lance Cpl. Jakob Schulz

ATV course gets down and dirty for Yuma Marines’ safety

25 Jun 2009 | Lance Cpl. Jakob Schulz

The station’s safety department held its first all-terrain vehicle safety course to instruct station Marines on ATV safety and improve their riding skills at Fortuna Wash in Yuma, June 17, 2009.

The one-day course taught six Marines how to safely operate an ATV as well as how to minimize their impact on the environment while riding.

Since August 2002, the Corps has required Marines who ride ATVs to complete a safety course and to use personal protective equipment when riding, according to Marine Corps Order 5100.19E.

During the course, the fundamentals of handling ATVs were stressed, with turning being the main focus.

“If someone is going to rollover, it’s going to be in midturn,” said Andrea Beauh, course instructor. “We practice turning at high and low speeds in as many ways possible.”

The Marines were also taught to respect the environment by doing as little damage to the trails as possible.

This course is especially applicable for station Marines, with many nearby off-road trails and riding areas, including California’s Imperial Sand Dunes west of Yuma.

In March, a corporal with Marine Wing Support Squadron 371 died in an ATV accident in the Imperial Sand Dunes.

Between fiscal year 2000-2008, 69 ATV mishaps were reported throughout the Navy and Corps, including seven Marines or sailors who were killed or completely disabled permanently, according to the Naval Safety Center.

According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, approximately 50 ATV-related deaths were reported in Arizona and approximately 100 in California from 2005-2007.

“This is a perfect example for why these safety courses are so important,” said Lt. Col. Robert Skankey, director of safety and standardizations here. “All too often, untrained riders try to push beyond their limits and can’t handle it.”

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