Top 10 safety tips for riding ATV and UTVs

Adventure 6 min read

You just bought your brand-new Can-Am Outlander 450 and you’re ready to hit the trails.

Not so fast!

With any off-road vehicle, it’s important to consider your safety while riding. Whether you prefer an ATV for quick turns and solo riding, or a helpful UTV for more specialized work like hunting and farming, are you really ready to ride? Let’s find out!

Because these off-road vehicles (ATVs and UTVs), like your new Can-Am Outlander 450, are meant to be used on unpaved (off-road) areas, there are risks involved. We’ve rounded up 10 safety tips for riding so you can be prepared for any conditions or circumstances that might happen.

Many ATVs and UTVs come equipped with safety features like brake wear indicators, safety flags, doors, seatbelts, and more. Other than the vehicle’s safety features, there are certain safety tips you should keep in mind while you’re out there.

If you haven’t quite made the plunge and bought an ATV or UTV yet, this information is still for you. Learning the ins and outs of the ATV/UTV lifestyle is an essential part of any rider’s journey. Take a look at our comprehensive ATV/UTV starter guide to learn the basics.

Pro tip: Make sure you’re equipped with the following safety gear before you move onto the more adventurous side of riding! Follow our five safety tips for riding ATVs and our five tips for riding UTVs.                                   

Five safety tips for riding ATVs

ATVs are popular, practical, and fun, but they can quickly turn dangerous if you aren’t staying safe and playing by the rules! Here are five safety tips to keep in mind before you hit the trails with your new ATV.

1. Wear the right gear

First, you need to make sure you have the proper safety gear. The absolute basics should be long pants, a long-sleeve shirt, boots, and a helmet. You can also get additional protective gear like an outside chest protector, motocross pants, motocross boots, knee guards, and more depending on how you ride. Let’s go over your ATV safety gear.

  • Helmet—Protect your head with a high-quality ATV helmet. Helmets should not only be comfortable and durable with the proper fit, but they should also be approved by the Department of Transportation, and in some cases, certified by SNELL.
  • Goggles—Goggles are also a great piece of gear to have, as they can protect your eyes from wind, rocks, dirt, dust, branches, and anything else that may come your way on the trail.
  • Toolkit—Everyone needs a simple toolkit. Toolkits should have a few basic items like a Swiss Army knife, duct tape, a trail map, a tire pressure gauge, a multifunctional screwdriver, and more. Other items can include vise-grip pliers, an air pump, tire plugs, and anything else you might need to get you back on the trails.

Pro tip: Don’t forget first aid! A simple first-aid kit should include Band-Aids, antibiotic ointment, gauze, and more. Trust us, it’s always better to be prepared.

2. Never ride alone

Never ride alone, and we don’t mean with a passenger. ATV riding can get a little sticky, so it’s a good idea to have some friends to ride alongside you in case you crash, run out of gas, get stuck, etc. Try to always ride with at least one other vehicle to play it safe.

Pro tip: Even if you drive in a popular area where there are many other enthusiasts or where you’re probably safe to ride alone, try to find a group to ride with so you don’t have to take your chances. Children should especially never ride alone and must always be supervised by an adult. Outdoor Safety 101 also says to always let someone reliable know where you are and when you expect to be back home.                 

3. No public roads!

ATVs are built for off-road riding, so keep them there! Pay attention to trail rules and regulations and stay off paved and public roads. Riding on paved and/or public roads can be dangerous because it makes it much easier for other vehicles to hit you, which is just a recipe for disaster. Also, be sure not to stray too far from the designated trails as there can be hazards you are unaware of!

Pro tip: Be cautious when crossing paved roads, and only do so where it’s legal and/or permitted.

Make sure you also follow trail etiquette. That means:

  • Stay to the right side of the trail.
  • Slow down around corners and near campgrounds.
  • Only ride on marked trails.
  • Have the proper paperwork, flags, stickers, etc.

This not only ensures your safety, but also the safety of others who are using the same area.

4. No passengers

Unless your ATV is specially designed for two riders, you should never have a passenger with you while riding an ATV: it dangers their safety and yours.

Having a passenger on a vehicle that is not designed for more than one person could throw off the center of gravity and cause you to tip over, especially if you’re driving at higher speeds. Also, if the passenger were to get injured, the driver and/or the owner of the vehicle are the ones responsible, which could create a legal and financial nightmare.

Drive safe and drive responsibly—no passengers!

If your friend is just desperate to ride with you out on the trails, tell them to check out the best deals in the industry on ATVs and UTVs so they can get one of their own.

5. Ride within your capabilities and choose the right ATV for you

No matter how you ride, what you ride, or when you ride, make sure you’re within your capabilities and have chosen the right ATV for your skill level. By riding an ATV you can handle, you can ensure a safer and more enjoyable ride.

Be careful not to attempt anything that requires more experience or skill than you have, as it can be dangerous. Instead, ride within your capabilities and don’t ride in areas you can’t easily navigate.

Can’t decide which ATV is best for you? There are so many great options, we know. Rollick breaks down the best ATVs for each style ranging from best in value to toughness to innovation, you’ll find what you’re looking for.

Pro tip: Even though ATVs are designed for off-roading, it’s best to stick to more established trails for your skill level because you never know what you could run into.    

Five safety tips for riding UTVs

While UTVs are mostly used for more specialized work like hunting and farming, they’re also built for off-road riding and rough terrain, so you still need to think about your safety. Lucky for you, we’ve rounded up five safety tips for riding UTVs so you can do your work and ride safely.

1. Gear up

Other than your farming and hunting gear, don’t forget about your safety and protective gear while you ride. The absolute minimum is a helmet and eye protection.

In addition to a helmet and goggles, a simple toolkit can come in handy and help you if you get in a bind. Recommended toolkit items are listed above in our five safety tips for ATVs for guidance.

Pro tip: Depending on how you’re using your UTV, roll bars and a safety net are additional features you might want to invest in.

2. Stay on trail

While UTV seating resembles that of a car, these vehicles still aren’t street legal so make sure to stay on authorized trails. Not only that, but UTVs aren’t built to withstand a crash with a car, so don’t risk it. Please stay on authorized trails and follow all rules and regulations of the area where you’re riding.

Pro tip: Make sure to follow the trail etiquette tips above to ensure a safe ride. As always, you should be cautious when crossing paved roads and only do so where it’s legal and/or permitted.  

3. Stay sober

This safety tip applies to all types of driving! Driving under the influence increases the risk of death and injury.

Be smart and ride sober.

4. Keep your arms in

We understand that these vehicles are fun to ride, but please keep your arms in. The large lugs on UTV tires can send rocks flying and you’ll have a lesser chance of getting hurt or injured by keeping your arms and all other body parts inside the vehicle while you’re riding.

Pro tip: Use the bars and handles that UTVs have if you need to grab onto something or feel like putting your arms up.

5. No donuts

There’s something about these fun and powerful side by sides that tend to make people want to do donuts. However, UTVs are tall, and with a high center of gravity and long-travel suspensions, doing donuts can tip you right on your side.

Pro tip: Even if you don’t tip over, you can still send anything you’re hauling in the back flying out and even rocks from the tires, which could possibly hit others. You could also hurt or injure yourself or passengers if you do tip.    

If you’re headed out to the woods in your new ATV or UTV, make sure you’re equipped and protected for the ride. Whether you’re racing on the trails, heading out for a hunt, tearing up the dunes, or working on the farm, it’s important to wear the proper gear, keep to well-known trails, and drive safe. Follow our 10 safety tips for riding ATVs and UTVs.

If you’re looking to price and buy an ATV or UTV, make sure to check out the Progressive Outdoor Vehicle Buying Program to search our vehicle inventory and get a special deal.

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