Submitted to the Herald Review LANSING \u2014 The Michigan Department of Natural Resources reminds off-road vehicle enthusiasts to learn riding and safety rules before taking to the trails. \u201cThe arrival of spring means countless ORV enthusiasts are preparing to hit the trails,\u201d said Cpl. John Morey, head of the DNR Law Enforcement Division\u2019s ORV safety education program. \u201cBut there\u2019s a lot to know when it comes to riding legally and safely. ORV riding is a great sport. Enjoy it to its fullest by understanding the laws, knowing your vehicle, being respectful of others and always putting safety first.\u201d Riders under the age of 16 must have a valid safety training certificate when operating an ORV. To obtain a certificate, the operator must take an ORV safety education course and pass the certification exam. Students have the option of taking an online or classroom-based course. Operators must carry their certificate on their person and present it to a law enforcement officer upon request. \u201cWe encourage all new riders to take a safety class even if they are exempt from the age requirement,\u201d Morey said. \u201cORVs are fun but they are not toys. They are built primarily for off-road recreation and can be dangerous if you don\u2019t understand your vehicle or know proper riding procedures.\u201d In addition to the age requirement for certification, other laws governing ORV riding include: \u2022 All operators and passengers must wear a U.S. Department of Transportation-approved crash helmet and protective eyewear, except in specific circumstances defined by law. \u2022 Open containers of alcoholic beverages may not be transported in or upon an ORV unless in a trunk or compartment separate from the vehicle\u2019s passenger compartment. \u2022 Roads, streets and highways maintained for year-round automobile travel are closed to ORVs, including the shoulder and right of way. However, ORVs registered as motor vehicles by the Secretary of State may be operated on the roadway. \u2022 ORVs may be operated on a roadway in accordance with a locally enacted ordinance. Riders are responsible for contacting local authorities to find out which roads are open to ORV use. \u2022 Private land is closed to ORVs unless the operator is invited by the landowner. \u2022 It is unlawful to operate an ORV in or on the waters of any stream, river, marsh, bog, wetland, swamp or quagmire unless the vehicle is driven on a ridge, culvert or similar structure. Morey offered general safety and riding tips as well: \u2022 Be sure your vehicle is in good mechanical condition. \u2022 Familiarize yourself with your ORV by reading the owner\u2019s manual. \u2022 Wear protective clothing suitable for the environment. \u2022 Make sure the lights work properly and are on during operation. \u2022 Never ride under the influence of alcohol or drugs, or when fatigued. \u2022 Know the terrain where you plan to ride. \u2022 Be aware of the weather forecast and never venture out alone. \u2022 Prepare for emergencies by packing first-aid and survival kits. Useful items include a map and compass, high-energy food such as candy bars, a flashlight, hand axe, signal flares, waterproof matches, mobile phone and a tarpaulin. \u2022 Respect any people or animals you encounter. \u2022 Be courteous on the trail and follow proper etiquette. This includes riding only where permitted, always yielding to uphill traffic, slowing down when someone is passing you, yielding the right of way to bikes, horses and hikers; carrying out what you carry in, and being considerate of others on the trail by keeping your vehicle to the right. \u2022 Report any illegal riding activity by calling or texting the Report All Poaching (RAP) line at 1-800-292-7800. ORV owners must have their vehicles titled through the Secretary of State. A Michigan title is not required on ORVs owned by nonresidents and used in Michigan. ORVs must be licensed by the DNR if they are used anywhere other than private property. The annual licensing fee is $26.25. In addition, an ORV trail permit is required to operate on state-designated ORV trails, routes or areas. The cost of an ORV trail permit is $10. The DNR is working with stakeholders to map forest roads on public lands in accordance with Public Act 288 of 2016. The initiative encourages more people to enjoy Michigan\u2019s public lands by enhancing ORV opportunities across the state. It will open thousands of miles of forest roads to ORV use unless the roads are designated closed by the DNR for reasons such as safety or environmental concerns. Learn more at michigan.gov\/forestroads. Visit michigan.gov\/recreationalsafety for more information on ORV riding requirements, safety and opportunities.