ATV Safety: Everything You Need to Know

An ATV (All-Terrain Vehicle) can be fun and exciting. But it's also important to understand the basics of ATV safety to ensure you have a safe, and fun, riding experience.

Exploring trails, traveling with friends, enjoying some fresh air, and getting muddy is all part of the experience. They are wonderful machines that lead to some great memories.

But, don’t let a bad decision take all the good away.

Before you ride, be sure you know all that you need to in order to stay safe. An ATV may seem like a toy, but it can be a life-altering – or ending - means of travel if you don’t know what you are doing.

Here are five ATV safety tips to ensure you are uninjured during your ride.


1. Take an ATV Rider Course

Before you take your first ride, you should take an ATV rider course.

After all, learning how to properly handle your ATV is the only way you can ensure you are giving yourself – and potentially your passenger – the safest ride possible.

Rider courses can teach you all of the basics of ATV safety, such as:

  • Starting and stopping
  • Turning slowly and at greater speeds
  • Swerving
  • Riding over obstacles
  • Stopping in an emergency

You can find courses online or join in on a local hands-on course. The latter allows you an opportunity to physically practice the basics in a controlled, supervised environment.

Of course, learning the local laws that surround the use of ATVs van prove to be very beneficial.


2. Wear Protective Gear

Do you know what is recommended to be worn when riding an ATV? Protective gear can mean the difference between staying safe and risking great danger.

After all – it is the only thing between you and the road beneath your tires.

Before you head out on your ATV, be sure you are complying with this protective gear:

  • A helmet. Many ATV accidents involve a head injury. By choosing to wear a helmet, you are significantly reducing your risk for a severe head injury. Be sure that the helmet is approved by the U.S. Department of Transportation.
  • Since almost all ATVs do not come with windshields, a pair of goggles can help reduce the chance for debris to enter your eyes. Without goggles, traveling at speeds can almost guarantee that something will make it into your eye. And, if you can’t see, you could end up in a crushing situation.
  • Boots, preferably those that go above your ankle.
  • Gloves for your hands.
  • Long pants and a long sleeve shirt should also be worn. If possible, opt for something meant for riding that will put some padding between you and the hard ground.

Remember, you will be traveling through rough terrain. There is the chance for flying debris and there is also the chance that you will be smacked by foliage as you ride on trails.

The better prepared your gear is for the ride, the safer you will be.


3. Inspect the ATV Prior to Riding

Just as you would look at a car to make sure it had 4 fully inflated tires, gasoline, and a sturdy frame before you hit the road, you will want to do the same with an ATV, too.

There are things that you should look out for before you ride to ensure that it is the safest ride possible.

For proper ATV safety, you will want to inspect the following, at the very least:

  • Check your handlebars. Turn them from side to side to ensure that they are functioning properly. This is important for mobility and steering.
  • Check your tires. You will want to be sure that the tires are inflated properly and that there are good tread and no significant signs of wear and tear to be concerned about.
  • Just as with a car, air filters and fluids are important in an ATV too. Check your fluids, including gas, oil, coolant, and brake fluid. All should be full – and ready to go.


4. Know That You Cannot Ride Everywhere

Did you know that you cannot ride an ATV anywhere you want to?

There are certain guidelines as to where you can ride them. And, this varies by state, city, and municipality.

Be sure to know where you can ride, if you need insurance, or if you need to be licensed before heading out.


5. Most Common Causes of ATV Accidents

ATV accidents happen far too often. Unfortunately, it is common for them to occur due to lack of experience, being under the influence, or pure foolishness.

According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, here are the most common reasons for ATV accidents:

  • Skill level and power aren’t matched properly. Giving someone too young or inexperienced the chance to ride an ATV that is too powerful can result in a dangerous situation. You want to find the right ATV for your needs.
  • Taking on too many passengers or not adhering to appropriate capacity. If the ATV is for a single rider, then only one person should ride. If it is made for a passenger, then a total of two people can ride. No ATV is meant to handle anymore than that. Not following this can result in an accident.
  • Driving the ATV while under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
  • The terrain, whether it is unknown, or too extreme for the skill level, can also commonly result in accidents.


Final Pieces of ATV Safety Advice

Last, but not least, we’d like to leave you with a few pieces of ATV safety advice for riding responsibly.

  • First, whatever you do, avoid paved roads. ATVs are meant for off-roading. Trying to drive them on a paved roadway can result in a slick ride – and can be difficult to handle.
  • Also, as learned above, riding an ATV while under the influence of drugs or alcohol is incredibly dangerous.
  • Lastly, always travel at a safe speed—and keep on eye on younger riders.

ATVs are meant to be a fun, exciting way to explore and spend time outdoors. While they can offer great rewards, they can also bring great danger if you don’t take a few precautions.

So, before you take your first ride, be sure you have the basic ATV safety knowledge, proper gear, and appropriate level ATV for your ability. Then, take off on a new adventure that is sure to turn into a hobby you will love for years.