With no protective barrier, these drivers and riders are highly susceptible to injuries in a collision or single-vehicle accident.
"If you are riding a motorcycle or ATV and get involved with a car, usually the results are not too good" said Lt. Jim McNiell of the Missouri State Highway Patrol Troop E. "Your chances for being injured or killed are significantly increased."
Statistics from 2005 showed about 10 percent of traffic accidents and fatalities were from motorcycles. Overall, 88 motorcycle riders were killed that year, and 1,857 were injured.
The patrol doesn't keep statistics on ATV accidents, but works several of them.
As with any situation, there are no guarantees, to keep safe but McNeill and others offered several tips.
A repeated piece of advice was to wear a helmet.
"We always want to make sure they ride with helmets," said Beth Clayton, manager of C&C Motor Sports. "Even if they're just going down the road."
Brandon Murphy, salesman at B&B Boats and Bikes, agreed. "If they don't say they have a helmet, I try to do anything I can to get them one," he said.
Both will discount the helmets to ensure customers wear them.
The state of Missouri has a helmet law for motorcycles, but not for ATVs, McNeill said. Of the 88 killed in 2005, 32 were not wearing a helmet.
ATV riders should also watch where they ride. "Unless you're a farmer using it in conjunction with your farming or you're in a county that issues an all-
terrain vehicle permit, you're not allowed to have that four-wheeler out on the road," McNeill advised. He isn't aware of any nearby counties that do issue such permits.
Oftentimes, these accidents occur on private property. "They're just out there having a good time and going too fast, hitting trees, flipping or something like that and getting ejected," McNeill said.
Clayton, who has ridden and raced ATVs since she was 5, said experience and supervision are other big factors.
"I know people who have gotten killed doing this kind of stuff, and it was from playing around and not being supervised," Clayton said.
Drivers education programs can provide some experience.
"The better you can prepare yourself, the safer you can be," McNeill said. "There's nothing like experience."
Oftentimes, people begin riding without the basics, said Lynn Sullenger. He and Rick Earnheart teach a motorcycle safety class in Kennett. During the weekend course, riders spend about 15 hours in the classroom and riding. Sullenger and McNeill said several motorcycle accidents occur at intersections. "A lot of them are situations where people are just not watching out for (motorcycles) and don't see them at intersections," McNeill said.
They suggested riders be alert. "If you see a car sitting at an intersection, have a game plan for when it pulls out, not if it pulls out," Sullenger said. It's also a good idea to wear reflective clothing and be sure headlights are working. "Visibility is the name of the game," McNeill said.
Other times, single-vehicle accidents occur due to weather or because the vehicle is rounding a curve too quickly.
Those who take a riding course are exempted from the riding portion of the state motorcycle exam and could gain an insurance premium discount, Sullenger said.
For more on the course, call Sullenger at 748-5756 or go to the Bootheel Motorcycle Training site, www.geocities.com/b_m_training/.