HURLEY, MS (WLOX) - All terrain vehicles are very popular to ride among many here in South Mississippi, but when simple ATV rules are not followed, that fun can turn tragic. A safety day for kids was held in the Hurley community in Jackson County Saturday to help prevent future accidents and injuries.
Jackson County Sheriff's deputy Mike Bailey said too often he sees young people carelessly operating ATVs. In fact, over the past year there have been at least 50 minor to major ATV accidents in the county.
"Most of the accidents we see are kids not familiar with the areas, not wearing their helmets of course, carrying passengers on the back and also driving on the road," Bailey said.
Bailey was one of many volunteers who trekked to the Hurley community in Jackson County to teach kids how to be safe on ATVs.
"We are teaching them safety precautions and knowing where all the controls are on the vehicles before they get on it," said Bailey.
Booths were also set up to provide visual instructions on what young ATV riders should wear.
The free helmet giveaway seemed to draw the largest crowd. Health officials from Singing River Health System said the safety gear helps prevent traumatic brain injuries.
"Mississippi has one of the highest rates in fatalities with ATVs in the United States, and we also have a high incident rate where kids are put in the hospital. They need to be at least 16 years of age or older to ride an ATV, and if they are going to ride one younger than that, they need to make sure they have proper protective gear, " Health official Heather Sudduth said.
Tara Claffey agrees. She said the safety equipment and education given out was just what her sons needed.
"These children are outside as early as eight o'clock in the morning. They are on their motorcycles, dirt bikes, go carts and their ATVs having a ball because in the county, that is one of the things we like to do out here. Safety is everything," Claffey said.
The ATV Kid Safety Day and the free helmets were paid for with the help of a grant from The Mississippi Department of Rehabilitation Services.