ATVs (or All Terrain Vehicles) have come a long way since they were first developed in Japan as three wheeled farm to town vehicles for use in isolated, mountainous areas. During the rainy season the steep mountain roads often became impassable and a three wheeled ATV provided to be an excellent mode of transport. Once they saw how well ATV's performed, it did not take Japanese manufacturers long to realize that the ATV could have sold to the much more affluent Americans, so in the 1970s the ATV was promoted and sold as a recreational vehicle designed to provide 'thrills 'for the rider.
In their turn, it was long before Americans found that the ATV was much more than a sports bike. It could move through terrain not accessible to four-wheel drives and pick-up trucks. The ATV also became the preferred transport of hunters and was used to reach remote areas where it was useful not just for access, it could also help bring the kill home.
These days the ATV comes in many different shapes and sizes; different types are being manufactured for specific uses which include ranching, hunting, military, industrial and emergency services as well as recreational, racing and pit vehicles.
Because ATV's are typically one man vehicles, and used in isolated areas, there are some precautions to take before setting out in one. Do you know your ATV? Can you mend it if something happens to it out there when you are all alone? If the answer is 'No' then you need to take some classes before you go anywhere, remember that if someone has to come and find you, you are putting them at risk. Be sure to tell someone where you are going and when you expect to get back, and best of all be sure to carry some reliable form of communication with you, just in case. Even a minor injury can be serious if you're a long way from help, so find out if there is a cellphone service in the area you plan to visit and if not, of it is not compatible with your phone, be sure to get equipped with a suitable CB radio. Yes, it will cost you something, but it could save your life and do not forget, there's no monthly bill.
Have you got all your safety gear on? Just a small cut on the hand can easily get infected and lead to a very, very nasty experience indeed. Be sure to carry tools, food and a first aid kit. Remember than fresh water is more important than food, if you know there will be sources of water around it's easy to carry a portable sterilizer which will clean even the most unappetizing pond so you can be sure you never run out.
But ATV's are more than hunter's vehicles. If you learn your off-road manners and monitor your radio, you may be able to make a real contribution to your community in case of a disaster. When volunteers are needed you'll be proud to get your trusty ATV and to work amongst them.