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All Terrain Vehicle (ATV)

1.1 Adapted from guidelines available on the websites of the European ATV Safety Institute and All-Terrain Vehicle Safety Institute (USA).  Introduction 

1.2 ATVs (also known as quad bikes), when operated properly, can be exciting and safe. However, their incorrect use can lead to serious injuries. Though ATVs are very similar to cars & motorcycles, their operation is very different. ATV operation requires a different level of instruction and training. These minimum standards have been outlined to promote safe practices among operators of ATV tours.  Guides 

1.3 Guides supervising participants on All Terrain Vehicle (ATV). Accreditation given by any International Institute's may be accepted. Alternatively the guide should have completed an in-house training programme which focusses on the following topics:- a) An introduction to the ATV machine, protective clothing, equipment and pre-ride inspections.  b) Range signals, rules and warm up exercises.  c) Controls and starting the engine.  d) Starting out, shifting gears and braking. e) Turning.  f) Riding strategies / risk awareness. g) Riding circles and figures of eight.  h) Quicker turns.  i) Sharp turns.  j) Quick stops and swerves.  k) Quick stop in a turn.  l) Riding over obstacles.  m) Safe and responsible driving practices.  n) U-turns and traversing hills.  o) Circuit or Trail rides.

1.4 In addition, all guides must be familiar with (and assessed on) the operating manual(s) of the ATV(s) which they operate.  CUSTOMER TRAINING 

1.5 ATV operators should always follow the instruction in their Owner’s Manual for recommended operating techniques. All participants of an ATV tour must receive a basic training course before their tour commences. The basic minimum training course should cover the following:  a) To mount and sit on the ATV correctly, locate and operate the controls, and dismount.  b) To use the brakes properly to bring ATV to a smooth, safe stop. c) To demonstrate basic turning skills by shifting weight properly to maintain balance and avoid the possibility of losing control of ATV.  d) It is very important that all participants pay attention to the instructions provided by their guides.

Equipment 1.6  ATV Machine: ATVs are subject to considerable wear and tear owing to the nature of their use outdoors. Therefore, only use an ATV from a reputable manufacturer and ensure maintenance is undertaken as per operating manual instructions.

1.7 Helmet: The single most important piece of protective gear riders must wear is a helmet, which can help prevent serious head injuries. Wearing an approved motorcycle helmet does not reduce essential vision and hearing. Use either a full face or three-quarter (open-face) helmet. Helmets must be properly fitted to the participant – it should be snug, comfortable and securely fastened.

1.8 Face shield or goggles: If the ATV tour is in a jungle or in areas with dense foliage, a face shield or goggles should be used to prevent eye injuries.

1.9 Gloves: Gloves should be of a quality that will help prevent your hands from getting sore, tired or cold, as well as offering protection in the event of a spill/fall. Off-road style gloves, available at leading motorcycle and ATV dealerships, provide the best combination of protection and comfort. They are padded over the knuckles for added protection.

1.10 Footwear: The minimum protective footwear is a pair of ankle-length shoes or boots with low heels to help prevent feet from slipping off the footrests.

1.11 Clothing: It is important to protect your skin from scratches. A long sleeved jersey/ sweater, shirt or T-shirt and long trousers are requirements for rider protection.

1.12 Spares & First Aid: It is recommended that guides carry an appropriate first aid kit and tool kit during an ATV tour. Examine the tool kit that came with your machine.

1.13 Before commencing each trip, Guides must carry out an inspection of any ATV to be used by themselves of their customers, before each ride. An inspection will minimise the chance of injury or malfunction, ensure long-term usage of your ATV. The ASI uses the following basic T-CLOC checklist: (T-CLOC stands for Tyres and Wheels, Controls and Cables, Lights and Electrics, Oil and Fuel, Chain/Drive Shaft and Chassis). SOPs & Operating Instructions

1.14 SOPs have to be formulated for conduct of training programme and the same should be approved by the Tourism Department of the respective State Government. The following rules should apply to all participants and guides during an ATV tour: 

a) All participants must wear a helmet and other protective equipment.  b) Always keep both hands on the handlebars and both feet on the footrests of ATV during operation. c) Avoid paved surfaces – ATVs are designed to be operated off paved roads.  d) Avoid public roads unless the machine has been specifically manufactured for this purpose and complies with the relevant automotive licensing requirements for road use.  e) Never allow riding under the influence of alcohol or drugs.  f) Never carry a passenger unless the machine has been specifically designed and manufactured to do so.  g) Ride only on designated trails and at a safe speed as mandated by the manufacturer of the machine. h) Extreme care must be taken not to undertake random offroading as it has deep impact on the ecology of the area specially in regions like Ladakh.

1.15 Special arrangements for Children  a) Children under the age of 18 require parental consent to ride ATV and adult supervision. b) ATVs are NOT toys and children aged below 18 years should only ride the right ATV for their age.  c) Always follow the manufacturer's minimum age recommendations which will be shown on the ATV or in the Operating Manual. Documentation

1.16 The following is the basis minimum documentation required.

a) ATV and associated equipment purchase documentation, including warranty, service & maintenance history documentation.  b) Owner's / Operating Manual for each ATV.  c) Training and assessment log for all guides.  d) First aid certificates for all guides. Risk Mitigation

1.17 A basic risk assessment should be conducted on any trail intended for the use of ATV tours before participants are permitted to use such a route.

1.18 An Emergency Action Plan must be in position and regular training imparted to the staff for the same. Emergencies and rescues

1.19 A first aid kit must be available and the venue/route itself must be easily accessible. In addition, a detailed emergency procedure must be written that includes contact numbers of the available emergency services. Evacuation routes and emergency procedures must also be included in the company's risk assessment. Safety Briefing

1.20 A pre ride safety briefing covering all aspects of risks and action to be taken both by conducting staff and the participants should be covered in details, some aspects are highlighted below.  a) Rules and speed limits. b) Wearing of protective gear.  c) ATV controls, operation and pre ride checks.  d) Rider responsibilities and risk awareness.  e) Group riding procedure to include lane position, following other vehicle, head lights, signals and parking.  f) Handling dangerous surfaces and any special riding conditions.  g) Indemnity bond by participant.  h) Avoiding alcohol prior to/during the ride.  i) Staying hydrated and rest stops. Medical Concerns

1.21 These are of two types : personal and accident related during the ride. For personal medical conditions clients should be advised to carry medication and inform the ride leader. For accident related concerns, the ride leader should have a plan in addition to a First Aid Kit.

1.22 Basic Minimum Standards for Grant of Recognition to ATV Operators

a) The agency must own ATVs and all accessories and safety gear as specified above. The ATVs must be well maintained, serviced and in perfect working order with the required documentation.  b) The agency must have at least two full time trained ATV guides duly qualified (specified above) / knowledgeable about conducting ATV activity safely, group dynamics, rules, communication skills and repairs / punctures etc. They must possess valid First Aid / CPR certification.  c) The operator must have SOPs for conducting ATV trips and an Emergency Action Plan for all trips.  d) A detailed risk assessment must be carried out prior to conducting ATV trips.  e) A list of hospitals in the vicinity of the tour should be carried by the ATV guides.  f) A detailed SOP for inspecting ATVs, documentation and safety gear prior to conducting trips must be in position.  g) The agency must have a registered office.  h) The agency must be registered with the local tourism authorities.  i) Local level certification for ATV Operators. This is desirable which can be implemented at State Government Level.  j) The company must follow a strict 'leave no trace' policy and conform to high sustainability standards.

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