Outdoors Notebook: Off-road vehicle, snowmobile safety courses posted online

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New Internet courses make it easier for quad and snowmobile riders to get safety certificates.

Pennsylvania has a rocky relationship with all-terrain vehicles. Quads are popular among recreational riders and hunters, but they're not street legal, too few commercial courses exist and many private landowners, state foresters, park rangers and Game Commission officials complain that the vehicles tear up turf, destroy habitat and frighten animals.

Better education for ATV riders on how their wheels impact the environment and safer ways to ride may be a step in the right direction.

Pennsylvania ATV safety certificates can now be acquired online at offroad-ed.com/pennsylvania. The Internet ATV safety class is state-approved training that covers the same material as classroom instruction.

"Since we do not offer instructor-led training for adults, the new online ATV safety course gives Pennsylvania adults an opportunity to receive quality ATV safety training," said Jason Hall, recreation programs specialist for the Pennsylvania Bureau of Forestry, in a written statement.

"In some cases, students can also submit their safety certificate to insurance companies for a potential insurance break," he said.

The safety course includes interactive animation and illustrations on maintaining, operating and storing off-road vehicles, correct riding techniques, safe riding of challenging terrain and anticipating unexpected conditions.

The ATV safety course is mobile-device friendly -- students can access the course on smartphones, tablets, laptops and Internet TV. Pennsylvania students age 16 and older pay a one-time fee due only when they pass the course. Students can print their own temporary certificate.

More miles of trails are open to snowmobilers, but safe operation remains a key issue.

State-approved snowmobile safety certification is now available online at snowmobile-ed.com/pennsylvania.

Like the ATV training, Pennsylvania's new snowmobile safety course can be accessed on mobile devices and is available to students age 16 and older. They pay for the course only when they pass it, and they can print a temporary certificate.

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