GORMAN, Calif. (KABC) --All-terrain vehicles can be exciting, but potentially dangerous. Before you get into an ATV or give your child permission to ride one, it's important to understand those dangers.
Talk about outdoor summer fun: an all-terrain vehicle in wide-open space. But even though nearly all ages can ride them, these are not toys.
"You want to have your child and your entire family properly trained with a rider course," said Ty van Hooydonk, an ATV Safety Institute instructor.
The danger of an ATV in the wrong situation has been in the news recently: Olympian Amy Van Dyken took a hard spill while riding one through a parking lot. She hit a curb and rolled down an embankment, according to the police report. The crash left her paralyzed.
Proper lessons on the dos and don'ts are essential for anyone, especially kids. Training sessions take place in a controlled setting and let riders build skills and confidence slowly.
"You learn about all the right things to do, wearing the proper gear, how to properly manipulate the ATV, how to be safe out there on the trails," said van Hooydonk. "All the right things to do get covered in that class."
Parents should know that ATVs come in age-appropriate sizes, with warning labels.
Y-6 is for anyone over age six. Y-10 is for those who are at least 10. And the full-size ones are for anyone 16 or older.
The smaller youth-sized models are also speed limited. One maxes out at 10 miles per hour.
As important as proper training is on an ATV is the proper way to dress: helmet, boots, gloves, long sleeves and long pants. Even a small injury on exposed skin can really hurt.
Veteran ATV rider Ubaldo Villalobos swears by proper gear -- from experience.
"I had a crash and nothing happened to me. It's just the gear," said Villalobos.
The safety campaign has paid off: Deaths and injuries were down 36 and 50 percent, respectively, in a recent 10-year period.
And, one of the best things? For kids, the classes are free.