Just attended the 5 hour safety class that was offered for free with the purchase of a new ATV this past Saturday. This course was given by the ATV Safety Institute. As someone brand new to ATVs, I found this course extremely useful. There were 6 of us in the course with variable riding experience and it seemed that everyone there found the course to be worthwhile.
The course consisted of all hands on riding through various scenarios. The instruction progressed through challenges, each building upon the previous exercise. We covered safety gear, check, starting, acceleration, turns, trail riding, traffic (figure 8s), hill climbing and descending. All within the 5 hour course.
Overall, I took away quite a bit of information and respect for these machines. This was time well spent.