A snowmobile and a quad were parked in the gym last Thursday, catching the eye of students as they assembled for the ‘Safe Riders! Ride With Respect’ program for off-road vehicle education. Developed by the Alberta Snowmobile Association and sponsored in part by the Government of Alberta, along with other off-road partners, the interactive program aims to “help to educate Alberta’s youth on safe and sound riding practices, riding and environmental safety and awareness, proper environmental respect, and so much more!”.
At no cost to the school, separate seminars were given to students in Grades 8 – 12, Grades 5 – 7, and Kindergarten through Grade 4. From the basics of proper headgear through avalanche awareness, each session featured age-appropriate information on all aspects of safe, responsible, riding.
The youngest students learned about proper gear, such as the importance of wearing gloves with good grip in the winter and long sleeves to protect your skin when riding in the summer. When asked what they learned, Hudson remembered, “Don’t drive when someone’s walking up to you”, and Teddy recalled the rule to look both ways before starting out, which was expanded on by Terry, who described how you have to, “turn your head more”, with a skidoo helmet on.
They also learned that you should never ride on someone else’s property without permission, and that you should be careful not to disturb others with the noise of your machines. The coolest part of the seminar was actually getting to sit on the prop machines.
Older students were reminded to respect the environment: stay on designated trails, remove any garbage you bring in, and carry out other litter you might find. The middle-grades were very impressed with the avalanche transceiver they got to try out as well as the backpack, which contains an inflatable airbag. Emma explained, “In an avalanche, small things sift to the bottom and big things rise to the top”, so, if inflated during an avalanche, the airbag will keep a rider at the top of the snowpack instead of being buried underneath. A shovel and collapsible pole completed the avalanche safety gear.
Volunteers from among the students participated in a scripted scenario in which a group of off-roaders suffered a range of injuries by jumping a rise in the terrain, beyond which was an unexpected ditch. Students learned the importance of planning ahead, driving safely, and considering the consequences of their actions.
“Accidents are predictable and preventable. We have choices in where, when, how and who we ride with. Good choices set us up for success. Pushing the limits or sloppy planning may lead to a close call, or worse, a serious injury or even a fatality.” – www.albertasaferiders.com
Swan Hills students now have more knowledge to help them make good choices, keeping them safe when involved with off-road vehicles.
Check out the photos in the “Safe Riders Presentation” slideshow in the Photo Gallery.