7 ATV Safety Tips for a Better Off-Road Experience
7 ATV Safety Tips for a Better Off-Road Experience
Sometimes, the fun begins where the pavement ends.
One of the most popular ways to enjoy the outdoors is to explore the trails on your all-terrain vehicle — also called an ATV or four-wheeler. In the Spring of 2017, about 10.5 million Americans lived in a household that owned an ATV.
Unfortunately, the thrill of the ride also comes with some significant hazards. According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, 340 ATV-related deaths were reported in 2015, with almost 100,000 emergency room visits in the same year.
So how can you have fun in the mud and come home safely? We’ve put together a list of 7 ATV safety tips to help reduce your risk.
#1: Get Smart with an ATV Course
Safety begins when you purchase your first ATV.
Especially if you’re a new rider, you’ll want to enroll in a hands-on course offered through the ATV Safety Institute.
You can visit the Safety Institute’s website or call them at 1-800-887-2887 to enroll in the ATV RiderCourse closest to you. When you enroll online, you will input your Zip Code to find out where to attend in your area. Online e-courses are also available.
Before hitting the trail, it’s important to familiarize yourself with the unique characteristics of ATVs and practice riding safely. To help with this, the ATV Safety Institute also publishes a practice guide that’s filled with important information and skills you’ll want to master.
#2: Dress for Safety with an ATV Helmet & Other ATV Gear
Your most important piece of ATV safety gear is your helmet. Here are some tips for choosing the right helmet and wearing it correctly:
- Must meet state safety standards
- Look for the DOT seal
- The helmet should fit snugly and fasten securely
- Your helmet should also have face and mouth protection
- Choose a helmet that comes with eye protection or buy goggles to wear with your helmet
Protecting your face, and especially your eyes, is important for several reasons:
- Objects may hit you in the face or eyes and cause serious injuries and permanent damage.
- Objects that hit you may also cause distractions that lead to an accident.
- Regular sunglasses do not offer proper protection against rocks, dirt and other debris that may come your way while riding your ATV.
- Make sure your face shield or goggles are unscratched so they don’t interfere with vision.
- The face shield should also be well ventilated to prevent fogging.
Wearing the right clothing can also help protect you from injury.
- Protect your hands with a good pair of gloves.
- Choose over-the-ankle boots to protect your feet.
- Cover your arms and legs in a long-sleeved shirt and long pants.
- If possible, wear knee pads along with chest and shoulder padding.
#3: Know Where to Ride (And Where Not to Ride)
Avoid riding an ATV on paved surfaces such as public roadways and sidewalks. There are several reasons for this:
- ATVs are built for off-road use only.
- Riding on pavement can interfere with your handling and control of the vehicle.
- Even if you’re highly skilled at riding on pavement, other motorists may not see you because of the ATV’s smaller size compared with standard cars or trucks.
Think about other drivers, pedestrians and the environment when riding your ATV. You must consider your own safety at all times, and respect the safety and enjoyment of others in choosing the best place to ride.
- Only ride in designated areas, such as an ATV park, or specially designed ATV trails.
- Educate yourself ahead of time about the areas where you plan to ride.
- Avoid environmentally sensitive areas. These include meadows, lakeshores, wetlands, streams, and other areas where ATV usage could disturb wildlife or damage soil quality.
- Be a good steward of our resources. That includes properly disposing of waste, minimizing your use of fire when outdoors, avoiding the spread of invasive species and restoring degraded areas when and where possible.
#4: ATV Safety Begins at Sweet 16
Young riders are especially vulnerable to injuries from ATV accidents.
In 2013 alone, 62 children under 16 were killed and another 25,000 injured. Because of the special risk, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends not letting children under 16 ride on or operate an ATV.
#5: Check It Out Before You Ride
Make a pre-ride inspection a regular part of your ATV routine. The ATV Safety Institute’s practice guide offers tips on checking out the following features before your adventure begins:
- Tires and wheels
- Lights and switches
- Oil and fuel
- Chain, drive shaft and chassis
- Tool kit
#6: Ride Safe
Once you’re out on the trail, there are several good riding habits that will give you a more enjoyable experience while keeping you safe.
Here are a few of the safe riding tips included in the ATV Safety Institute’s practice guide:
- Use a buddy system — always ride with another person.
- Master starting procedures and good posture
- Master shifting gears, braking, turning and parking
- Practice going up and down hills and traversing an incline
- Riding with a passenger is more difficult and requires extra practice
- Use care when riding on surfaces like sand, mud or snow
- Be extra careful if you must cross a road or drive over any paved surface
- Only tow a trailer if your ATV is designed for towing
- Never use drugs or alcohol when riding
- Avoid driving when you are fatigued as that could lead to accidents and injuries
In addition, check to see if your state requires an ATV license or another form of registration, and familiarize yourself with ATV laws in your state. For example, in Missouri you must title and pay tax on a new ATV within 30 days of purchase.
#7: Protect Your Ride with ATV Insurance
In the event that you do have a mishap while using your ATV, having the proper insurance can protect you from the expenses that arise from the accident.
Most specialty vehicles are not covered by your home or auto policy, but you can get separate insurance policies for ATVs and other specialty vehicles:
- Dune buggies
- Dirt bikes
- Golf carts
- And more
There are a few different types of ATV coverage you’ll want to consider:
- Collision coverage. This policy offers protection in case your ATV is in a collision with another vehicle or object. It includes property damage liability if you cause damage to another person’s vehicle while operating your ATV. It may also help with your legal defense if you are sued in connection with an ATV accident.
- Liability coverage. This policy covers damages if you injure or kill someone while operating your ATV, and may provide for legal defense if you get sued.
- Comprehensive physical damage coverage. You will also want protection against fire, theft, vandalism and other perils that may affect your ATV besides a collision.
Some insurers will offer discounts on your ATV insurance if you meet certain conditions:
- Be safe. If you have a safe driving record, you may be able to lower your premium.
- Choose wisely. Some ATV models are considered more risky to drive and may cost more to insure. So think about this when you’re shopping for your vehicle.
- Carry multiple policies. If you already carry home and/or auto insurance from a single provider, you may be eligible for a discount by insuring your ATV with the same company.
Do you have questions about insurance for your ATV?
Contact The Resource Center today. We’ll provide information on your motorsport insurance options and offer tips for staying safe and lowering your premiums.
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