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ATV deaths in Wisconsin on the rise

RHINELANDER, Wis. (WXPR) -  An ATV operator's death in Sawyer county last week has drawn attention to a growing number of deaths this year. DNR Conservation Warden Todd Schaller says 18 people have lost their lives in ATV and UTV mishaps. He says some similarities come out of the accident reports.  "The wearing of helmets, operating at a responsible speed based on conditions, based on an operator's training and experience, operators taking an ATV safety course so they're familiar with not only the laws and rules but with with ATV safe operation and the last is not mixing alcohol (with driving.)" Schaller says half of the 18 deaths involved a person who had been drinking. He says the deaths have occurred all over the state. He says they not only are they recreational vehicles, but they are extensively used on farms and also as a hunting tool. That last point is important as Wisconsin gets deeper into the hunting seasons. “The hunting season has more people out and about, more people using them to get into the hunting locations, both on private property and some public areas where they are allowed. We anticipate an increased use, not only on the trails, but because of the hunting environment and hunting seasons." Schaller says there were 18 deaths for all of 2009, a total matched last week with a busy three months ahead.