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      ATV dealership calls off-road vehicles safe when used properly

      The Texas Department of Public Safety describes the off-road vehicle used in Monday's night's fatal accident involving 8 Lyford high school students as a Polaris Ranger 500 edition.

      Elliff Motors in Harlingen is an official Polaris dealership.

      "The safety of the vehicle is great as long as it's used in the way it's supposed to be used," Chris Elliff, salesman said.

      The Ranger seats anywhere from 2 to 6 people depending on the model.

      Chris says not following rider capacity recommendations can lead to trouble.

      "You can overload the vehicle," he explained. "Unbalanced| Loss of concentration for the driver... Overweight| Anything like that."

      The vehicle involved in the accident encountered mud on the right wheels from a road east of town and then veered to the right before it rolled over.

      "People need to know... as long as you respect the machine, you're probably going to be okay," Chris said. "It's no different than losing respect for an automobile vehicle and rolling a car over."

      Specific safety recommendations are listed in the owner/operator manual.

      Chris says it's imperative for anyone riding in vehicles like ATV's and UTV's to understand the risks associated with not following them.

      "They're all powerful machines and you have to know what you're getting yourself into when you get into a machine whether it's a car, truck or ATV or just any kind of off-road vehicle," he said.

      Seatbelts are supposed to be worn and no one under age 16 should be behind the wheel of the full-sized Ranger, according to the manufacturer.

      Troopers list all the occupants from Monday's wreck as 15-years-old with none wearing a helmet or safety belt at the time.

      "Any safety feature that comes with the machine, the customer is always informed of, and it's up to them to be responsible and use it properly," Chris said about his dealership's sales practices.

      Elliff Motors also recommends riders take an ATV/off-road vehicle safety course.

      They say safe riding occurs when riders know the limits of the road and the limits of the off-road vehicle.

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