What You Can Do to Stay on Your ATV and out of the ER
There isn’t a gasoline-powered vehicle on wheels that is completely safe. We all know this, and unfortunately, ATV’s are in this group. Each year between 300-400 deaths occur that are related to ATV use on United States roadways. While it’s probably also true that we don’t ride ATV’s because they’re the safest, there are still things we can do to ensure ATV safety.
There’s nothing you can do to guarantee that you’ll never get hurt or injured riding your ATV. But there are things you can do to significantly reduce your risk and the risk of others around you. So strap on your helmet and slip on your best pair of riding gloves. Oh, and some boots with good ankle support while we talk about some great ATV safety tips to have a safe experience on the trail.
ATV Safety Tips for a Safe Ride
1. Get Safety Certified
There’s no better offense than a good defense. That’s why it’s a great idea to get ATV safety-certified on your ATV before you even get on the trail. That is to say, trail systems are unpredictable and change all the time due to natural forces. So before you head out into the woods for the first time, check out some classes for yourself and the little riders in your life at the ATV safety institute.
You wouldn’t take the SAT’s without studying, so why get on a gas-powered workhorse that’s liable to buck you off without the right training? Getting ATV safety-certified is going to save you a lot of physical and mental headaches. Best of all, it not only makes riding safer for you… but also everyone you ride with.
2. Select the Correct Size ATV
There is a wide array of different sized ATV’s, engines included. Engines can be as small as 50cc and reach upwards of 300cc and weigh more than 600 pounds. Obviously, this isn’t the ATV you want to put your teenager (under 16 years old) on. The bigger your ride is, the harder it will be to control. That’s why it’s important to get yourself and your loved ones an ATV that is appropriate for the age and size of the rider.
You might be tempted to buy your kids an ATV that’s a little larger than they can handle so they’ll grow into it, but trust us, it’s not worth it. The hospital bills you’ll pay if they take a serious spill are going to cost you more than buying that second ATV.
3. Wear Appropriate Protective Clothing
Maybe your teenager will try to convince you that they look cooler riding their ATV without a helmet. But, you can let them know that the really happenin’ look this spring is having your brains inside your skull. That’s one cool-lookin’ ATV safety tip, right?
However, protective gear doesn’t stop at a helmet. Essential ATV safety gear includes eye protection, gloves, long pants, and long sleeves while riding. ATV’s have a naturally high center of gravity and tips happen. When that tip over does happen, though, you’ll be glad you have long clothes to protect you from scrapes and scratches.
Also, make sure to get shatter-proof eye protection. Your mirrored aviator glasses look nice, but they won’t stop a piece of debris flung up from your buddy’s tire from hitting you in the eye.
4. Don’t Ride on a Paved Road (except…)
You read our statistic earlier. That number was only for deaths that occurred on the road systems. You might have four wheels on your vehicle, but that doesn’t mean you should be riding alongside the road, it’s an accident waiting to happen.
Above all, you shouldn’t ride your ATV over the roads except to cross where it is indicated and appropriate to do so. It’s called an All-terrain vehicle, but it’s not meant for driving on the road, it’s meant for tearing up off-road terrain.
We aren’t forgetting about Street-Legal ATVs, don’t worry. There are some places where you can make your ATV street-legal, read more about where and how to do that here.
5. Never Ride Under the Influence
You should never operate an ATV (or any vehicle) under the influence of alcohol or other drugs. That is a simple fact and it’s illegal. Alcohol is involved in more than 30% of ORV deaths. Please note as well that ATV riders are subject to all of the same drinking and driving laws as car drivers are. ATV safety should also include common sense and responsible handling.
Drugs and alcohol are always going to affect your ability to operate any motor vehicle. However, ATV’s, unlike cars, don’t have a windshield, seat belts, and most don’t have a roll cage. When you got knocked off your ATV because you weren’t paying attention, you’re definitely going to feel it. This ATV safety tip may seem obvious, but the stats seem to say otherwise. Don’t become a part of that statistic!
6. Always Ride at a Safe Speed
Yeah, your ATV can go upwards of 80 miles an hour on a straight stretch. That’s cool, but so is not being wrapped around a tree! Speed is a top contributing factor for any accident that involves a vehicle with a motor; ATV’s definitely included. Never push your limits when you’re riding, especially in an unfamiliar environment or you can end up like these folks. ATV safety saves lives.
7. Ride Only on Designated Trails
Okay, maybe you’ve seen a strange trail in the woods on your way home from work. You think, “man, that would be a great place to go for a ride!”. Sure, it might be fun to flex your adventurer’s muscle. But, when it comes to ATV safety, you have to consider that you just don’t know what kind of condition a non-designated trail is in.
Bad terrain or sinkholes, for example, just show that you don’t know what is in store for your ATV. Designated trails are regularly traveled and you don’t have to worry about coming up against something you and your ATV can’t tackle. Not to mention this is where people know you’re going to be and you won’t accidentally hit a pedestrian going for a hike.
Something To Think About Before Your Next Ride
ATV Safety Affects Everybody
Are you guilty of breaking one of these ATV safety rules? Probably. Most of us are. Likewise, for those of you reading that aren’t, congratulations! Meanwhile, for the rest of us, keep these ATV safety tips in mind the next time you go out for a ride. Not just for your own safety, but for the safety of everyone else on the trail, too.
And if you’re looking to explore some of the best ATV trails in the U.S., be sure to check out our blog. While ATV safety is very important to us and should be taken seriously, the TMS Parts family LOVES to have fun. But, you know, safely.