GORMAN, Calif. - Gravity wanted to happen. It pulled at the weight of the Kawasaki Teryx parked steeply near the top of the lumpy, concrete-covered slope. It tested the vehicle’s brakes and leg muscle of the driver whose eyes were glued to the spotter at the bottom of the hill, and foot was mashed into the floor pedal.
Slowly I pushed on the gas and eased up the brake and, following the spotter’s hand gestures, let the machine’s capabilities, a morning’s worth of instruction and a whole lot of trust help guide the four-wheeler up and over the rocky terrain, down the hill toward gravity’s inevitable victory.
There. That didn’t seem so bad, did it. (Gulp.)
This white-knuckled, thigh-tightening lesson was brought to you by the Recreational Off-Highway Vehicle Association as part of the West Coast launch of the trade agency’s new ROV Basic DriverCourse and related Open Trail Experience. The launch took place at the expansive Hungry Valley SVRA in Gorman, Calif with a small group of enthusiast publication editors. The two-pronged training effort is part of ROHVA’s consumer education and training push aimed at promoting safe and responsible ROV — or side-by-side — usage.
With side-by-side sales currently buoying much of the powersports retail business, some government agencies have turned their scrutiny toward the segment with an eye towards new regulations. The association is taking a proactive approach to addressing any concerns by instituting voluntary design standards for its seven member OEMs and by expanding consumer training, says ROHVA vice president, Paul Vitrano.
“This is the bright spot of the powersports industry these days. This segment is growing year-over-year,” Vitrano says. “The big push for us is to get the safety message out and get people to take advantage of the resources that are available.”
How bright? According to Power Products Marketing, a Minneapolis research firm that tracks the segment, North American SxS sales in 2011 hit 272,000 units, and in 2012 they climbed to 315,000 vehicles. (continued)
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