According to the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, 29 people have died while riding off-highway vehicles so far this year.
The most recent casualty was a suburban Milwaukee man in the town of Beecher who was ejected upon impact, and the machine landed on top of him, according to the Marinette County Sheriff’s Office.
This is the first ATV/UTV fatality in Marinette County since July 2019, and the 29th ATV/UTV death in Wisconsin this year, compared with 25 at the same point a year ago, according to the Department of Natural Resources. There were 38 total deaths in the state last year, with 22 in 2019.
“If you notice on some of the data we have right now, very little of the individuals involved in some of the fatal accidents were wearing a helmet,” DNR Recreation Warden Molly Detjens said, then added that in a number of the deaths so far the drivers were under the influence.
In other words, in many cases, the operator was speeding, intoxicated, and wasn’t wearing a seatbelt in some of the accidents that claimed so many lives.
Wisconsin has more registered ATVs than any other state, with an estimated 336,221 ATVs and UTVs operating on Wisconsin’s roads and trails as of the end of 2017, according to the DNR.
“This overall trend is troublesome because ATV riders are twice as likely to die or suffer serious injury compared to motorcyclists,” said DNR ATV specialist Craig Thiede.
“As we enjoy those late-summer rides and get ready for fall excursions, it’s important to use caution and wear protective gear,” said Lt. Martin R. Stone, DNR Off-Highway Vehicle Administrator. “Rollover crashes have caused nearly half of the ATV/UTV fatalities in Wisconsin in 2021. Monitoring speed and using caution on rough terrain is critical; some terrain in Wisconsin is too steep for ATVs and UTVs.”
Anyone that wants to operate an ATV or UTV who was born on or after January 1, 1988 and is at least 12 years of age (ATV) or 16 years of age (UTV) is required to complete an ATV safety certification course in order to operate the vehicles in Wisconsin, with the exception of operating the vehicles on private property owned by immediate family members. The DNR also offers online safety courses and information, which are available on the DNR’s safety education website.