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ATV deaths on the rise in Minnesota

Minnesota Department of Natural Resources officials are concerned about the recent upward trend in all-terrain vehicle deaths. So far this year, 16 people have died in ATV accidents in the state. That compares to 14 for all of 2009.

"It's hard to really draw conclusions on why they're happening, other than the reckless operation of the ATVs themselves," said Capt. Mike Hammer, DNR Safety Education coordinator. "ATV riding is very popular in Minnesota, but people are operating ATVs beyond their capability."

The latest fatality occurred on Aug. 1 in Carver County. The operator was a 49-year-old man with no formal ATV safety training, which is common to all fatalities this year.

ATV rollovers were also to blame. The higher center of gravity on an ATV means there's an increased risk for a rollover, Hammer said. Since July 4, ATV rollovers have claimed the lives of six Minnesotans.

Minnesota had 17 ATV-related fatalities in 2008. A record 24 occurred in 2004.

Hammer recommended that all ATV riders complete the course regardless of age and follow these basic safety principles.

Anyone born after July 1, 1987, must complete an ATV CD Training Course before operating an ATV. The course covers a variety of topics including safety and rules and can be obtained through the DNR at a cost of $15.