You just bought your brand-new quad and are ready to hit the trails. But before riding, it’s essential to understand ATV safety. Off-road vehicles (ATVs and UTVs) are meant to be ridden on unpaved (off-road) areas, which comes with some risk. We’ve rounded up some UTV and ATV safety tips for riding so you can prepare yourself to ride no matter what the trail throws at you.
If you’re planning on buying an ATV, or have an ATV currently, learning ATV basics, like how to ride an ATV safely, is an essential part of any rider’s journey. Learn more about difference between ATVs vs. UTVs.
ATV safety tips
Always wear ATV safety gear
Make sure you have the proper ATV safety gear. Basic safety gear includes:
- Long pants, long boots, and long sleeve shirt
- Outside chest protector, boots, and knee guards
- DOT-approved helmet and goggles
- Toolkit with essential ATV safety items
- Roll bar and safety net
Avoid riding alone
ATV riding can get dangerous, so having friends to ride with in case you crash, run out of gas, or get stuck, is good ATV safety practice. Always ride with at least one other vehicle to play it safe. Having riding buddies is a crucial ATV safety tip for kids. You should always supervise children, even if you drive in a popular area with many other enthusiasts. Always let someone reliable know where you are and when you expect to return home.
Avoid riding with passengers
Riding with others is an important ATV safety precaution, but everyone should have their own vehicle. Unless your ATV is designed for two riders, carrying a passenger with you endangers everyone.
Having a passenger on a vehicle designed for one rider can throw off the center of gravity and cause the vehicle to tip over, especially when driving at higher speeds. Also, the driver and the vehicle owner can be held responsible if the passenger were injured, which could create legal and financial consequences.
Avoid riding on public roads
ATVs and UTVs 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 public roads can be dangerous because it makes it much easier for other vehicles to hit you. Also, be sure not to stray too far from the designated trails, as there can be hazards you are unaware of!
It can be especially tempting to drive on paved roads in a UTV, because UTV seating resembles a car. However, these vehicles aren’t street legal, so stay on authorized trails. What’s more, UTVs aren’t built to withstand a crash with a car, so don’t risk it.
Follow ATV trail etiquette
Another ATV safety rule is following the customs and etiquette of ATV trail riding to ensure your safety and the safety of others riding in the same area.
- 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.
Learn more about the best ATV trails in the U.S.
Ride within your capabilities
No matter where you ride, what you ride, or when you ride, make sure you know how to ride an ATV safely and have chosen the right ATV for your skill level. You can ensure a safer and more enjoyable ride by riding an ATV you can handle. 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.
Stay on established trails to avoid running into something unexpected that you can’t handle.
Other considerations for ATV safety
When you head out to the woods in your new ATV or UTV, make sure you’re equipped and protected for the ride. ATV insurance can cover the injuries or damages you’re liable for and repairs to your vehicle. Learn more about how ATV insurance works.