ATV safety company comes to Pilot Point
By Tatiana Ambrosio
All-terrain vehicles accounted for 773 deaths in Texas alone over the span of 35 years, according to the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission.
Deaths from ATVs are still happening; nine drivers lost their lives and two riders lost their lives in ATV accidents in 2020, according to consumerfed.org.
Children as young as 6 years old can ride smaller ATVs. Though some states have signed laws that children under 18 years of age have to wear helmets to operate ATVs, Texas has not.
ATVs can weigh up to 700 pounds and drive up to 80 miles an hour.
Joe Lord came from a background of selling ATVs to consumers. He became aware that in the sales process he was required to relay to his customers that they could take a safety course for their ATV; but when he was repeatedly asked if he knew anything about the courses offered and did not, he saw a need.
“Every time a person goes into a dealership and purchases a new ATV, there is a form that that dealership has to provide to that customer. [It has] a yes or no box saying do they want to take the ATV safety class or not,” Lord said.
He went on to explain that if the customer says no, the manufacturer is released from wrongful death liabilities. If the customer says yes, then the manufacturer would contact the ATV Safety Institute.
The customer would then, at no cost to them, be sent to the safety class.
“Not only is the class free [that way], but each manufacturer has their own little incentive that they give to their customers, like Honda ... will send them a $100 check in the mail,” he said.
Lord added that the course is not only free for the buyer but all family riders.
In 2003, he became certified as an ATV safety instructor through the ATV Safety Institute.
He spent five days in Georgia in an intensive course for his certification with the ATV Safety Institute and has been teaching the course ever since.
On Sunday, he offered his first ATV Safety Course in Pilot Point.
Lord, who recently moved to Pilot Point after spending time in the White Rock Lake area of Dallas, is originally from Kentucky.
Lord said he’s now the only course provider in the north Texas area.
Currently, the course will be offered once a month on Lord’s property, where he has constructed a training course. It is a four-hour class that runs from noon-4 p.m. on every third Saturday of the month.
Riders work their way from the outer parts of the course where they will handle big turns to the interior of the course where maneuvering becomes tighter and more intricate. The class covers everything from learning the controls and shifting gears to sharp turns/figure eights to trail riding and hills.
Lord said that a lot of the danger comes from flip overs.
“We teach them how to adjust their weight into the turn so that they’re less likely to flip or rollover. We teach them how to go up a hill. Most people will lean forward with their head and keep their butt in the seat … What you want to do is get as much weight out over the front of the ATV as possible. So you actually stand up and almost lay between the handlebars,” he said.
He teaches about the dangers of trail riding and how to make quick stops “in case they’re riding along and all of a sudden something runs out in front of them or there’s a big hole there or out of nowhere there’s a stump or a tree had fallen in the trail,” he said.
Riders in the class must provide their own ATV. Lord has two that can be used. However, he is looking to partner with an area dealer to supply the safety course. When he secures an agreement, he will be able to provide more loaners.
The course is free to all family members ages 6 and up. When attending the class, riders are required to wear a DOT-compliant helmet, goggles, long sleeves, long pants, over-the-ankle boots and gloves.
To enroll in Lord’s course, ATV riders can contact their dealership or the ATV Safety Institute.
If customers have bought their ATVs new, Lord said, they do not have to pay for the safety class.