Summer is here and with it comes an increase in off-road vehicle recreation. The Davis County sheriff's office offers some tips for a safer, more enjoyable, and citation-free ORV season.

Sgt. Mik Praysz of the sheriff's department suggests riders use helmets and safety equipment, ride within their abilities, register their vehicles and be aware of local watershed protection laws."I know this will be hard to believe," Praysz said, "but, despite popular belief, citations are not our chief concern. As deputy-paramedics, our first concern is safety.

"All too often, we hear `I'm an expert rider' as a reason for not wearing safety equipment. But if you look at the real experts, whose livelihood is generated by ORVs, you'll find their safety equipment is always worn," said Praysz.

"But it doesn't end there," he said. "Safety further extends into preventive maintenance of your vehicle and a proper assessment of your riding abilities in addition to knowledge of the terrain you're in."

Prayzs urged ORV riders to avoid drinking and driving. Many of the ORV accidents the sheriff's department responds to involve alcohol, he said. "Please keep in mind that here as well as on the regular roads, drinking and driving don't mix."

The floods of 1983 and subsequent passage of watershed abuse laws ban riding in the foothills through Davis County except in designated areas.

"I know the idea of trailblazing is exciting and challenging, but this practice only promotes increased erosion, which compounds the effect on the environment," said Praysz.

Vegetation helps hold the soil in place on hillsides, he said. "We only need to look back a few years in our own county to see the extent of the damage that mudslides and floods caused in the foothills."

State laws require that ORVs be registered, Praysz said, an area "that seems to be all too often forgotten or neglected since it affects our pocketbooks.

"But think about these ideas as you pay for your ORV sticker: The money helps maintain and improve the public recreation areas that you plan on using and you have an increased chance of having your vehicle recovered if it is stolen by having its serial number in the state files."

So, how do ORV drivers avoid a citation?

"Keep in mind the topics of safety, watershed and registration," Praysz advised. "If you apply all three to your ORV use, chances are that you'll see us only in passing - passing on our way to help someone who didn't pay attention to the safety aspect."