Riding an ATV can be fun, but if you don’t take the proper precautions, it can also be dangerous. These ATV safety tips can help make your riding experience safe and enjoyable:
Enroll in an ATV Safety Course
Before climbing on an All-Terrain Vehicle, complete a hands-on training course to help prepare you for both on-road and off-road situations.
The ATV RiderCourse, offered by the ATV Safety Institute, offers hands-on training, instructions on protective gear, local rules and regulations, and even a list of riding sites in your area. For other options, contact an ATV manufacturer, local ATV riding group or the National 4-H Council.
Wear Protective Gear
Along with experience and skills, you need proper protective gear. Here is some required equipment:
- Helmet – Make sure your ATV helmet, motorcycle helmet or other motorsports helmet is certified by the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) and/or the Snell Memorial Foundation.
- Goggles – Since many ATV trails are in wooded areas filled with branches, bugs, rocks and dirt, wear snug-fitting goggles to keep debris out of your eyes.
- Over-the-ankle boots – Protecting your feet and ankles requires protective footwear. Since you’ll likely be riding in muddy terrain, your boots need nubby soles for a more substantial grip. Make sure they’re not too tight, which could make a long ride very uncomfortable.
- Long-sleeve shirts and pants – Covering your arms and legs helps protect against abrasions and scratches.
- Gloves – Full-fingered gloves not only help you grip on your handles, they can protect against calluses, muscle cramps, sore joints and thumb fatigue. Look for gloves with palm padding, which helps prevent the glove from bunching up at the grip.
Avoid Paved Roads
While some states allow ATVs on paved roads, it is actually unsafe and can increase chances of an accident. Since these vehicles are designed for off-road use, they can more easily overturn or collide with another vehicle.
Stick to the Right Number of People
Unless your ATV is designed to carry more than one person, don’t take on a passenger. Most ATVs are single-rider vehicles and are not meant to carry additional people. Some single-rider ATVs have longer seats – not to accommodate a passenger, but to give the driver more room to shift around. Riding with a passenger increases the risk of rolling over and getting into an accident.
Inspect Prior to Riding
Inspect your ATV before every ride. Here are some key things to check for:
- Handlebars – Move them from side to side to make sure there are no issues with mobility or steering.
- Tires – Follow the tire manufacturer’s recommendation for air pressure. And check signs of wear and tear.
- Fuel and other fluids – Gas, oil, coolant and brake fluids should be full.
For more tips, check out this pre-ride inspection checklist.
Get ATV Insurance Coverage
Even safe drivers can have accidents, so be sure you have proper insurance coverage to protect yourself and your ATV. Learn which ATV insurance coverage options are right for you.