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Ask a Conservation Officer: Helmets for ATV riders

Q: Since a lot of the ORV and ATV trails are closed for seasonal conditions, I will be riding some of the roads that are now open in St. Louis County and Lake County. Do youths have to wear a DOT-approved helmet? Also, are children who still requ...

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Q: Since a lot of the ORV and ATV trails are closed for seasonal conditions, I will be riding some of the roads that are now open in St. Louis County and Lake County. Do youths have to wear a DOT-approved helmet? Also, are children who still require a car seat in a vehicle required to use a car seat in a side by side?

A: Proper use of safety equipment is one of the best ways to avoid serious injury when operating or riding on an ATV. State law requires the use of a DOT-approved helmet for all operators and passengers under 18 years of age on an ATV when riding on public lands, public waters, or on a public road right-of-way. A bicycle helmet or other non-DOT helmet does not fulfill this requirement and it does not offer the same protection. This applies to both Class 1 and Class 2 (side by side) ATVs.

In addition, all operators and passengers under age 18 on a Class 2 ATV must wear a seat belt when one is provided by the manufacturer. There is not a requirement for a car seat on an ATV, but the operator must make a responsible choice if a child can safely ride on the machine given the realities of riding, weight of a helmet on a child's head, etc.

Matthew S. Miller is a Minnesota Department of Natural Resources conservation officer with the Lake Superior Marine Unit. Send your questions to outdoors@duluthnews.com .

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