All-terrain vehicles (ATVs) are quite popular these days but their use comes with great risks – especially for children!
Keep yourself and those around you safe by following basic safety guidelines whenever you take an ATV out:
- Do your research BEFORE you go out! Read your owner’s manual. Know the local laws. Know where you’ll be riding and what to expect. Know how to work your ATV. Know basic riding safety.
- Take an ATV safety course. Check out your ATV’s manufacturer, the local 4-H club, the local riding group, or an ATV RiderCourse.
- ALWAYS wear your helmet! And make sure to pick out a Department of Transportation compliant helmet – it should have a sticker!
- Dress appropriately. You should wear long sleeves and pants, boots that go over your ankles, gloves, and goggles.
- NEVER ride while under the influence of drugs or alcohol!
- NEVER drive while tired, sleepy, drowsy, etc. It takes strength and concentration to ride, if you’re tired stop riding. Drink some water or sports drink. Eat. Take a nap. Call it a day.
- Never ride alone! Always take at least one more person with you. If you get lost, hurt, run out of gas, etc., having someone with you can save you or at least make a situation more fun. Always know where your riding buddies are while you’re out there.
- Make sure someone knows where you’re riding and when you’ll be back. If you get lost, hurt, or run into any other trouble, someone outside your group needs to know when to start to worry and where to start a search.
- Limit your passengers! Know how many passengers your ATV was designed for and stick to it. Don’t carry a passenger on a single-rider ATV!
- Supervise all riders under the age of 16 and make sure they are on an ATV appropriate for their age. ATVs are not toys. Children can be seriously injured or killed in ATV accidents. The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons recommends never letting children under the age of 12 drive an ATV due to lacking the body size and strength required to properly drive an ATV. Meanwhile, the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American College of Surgeons recommend never letting a child under the age of 16 drive an ATV. Don’t let your child ride before they are ready – physically or mentally. Just because they might be at the recommended age does not mean that they are ready. Never let a child under 6 on an ATV.
- Do an inspection of your ATV before every ride. It’s only 5-10 minutes. Your owner’s manual might offer a pre-ride checklist. Always remember T-CLOC: Tires and wheels, Controls and cables, Lights and electrics, Oil and fuel, Chain/driveshaft and chassis.
- Stay on designated paths! And stay towards the middle so you don’t widen them!
- Stay off paved roads! ATVs are meant to driven off road. They’re lower to the ground and easier for drivers to miss.
- Keep your speed at a safe level!
- Don’t do tricks and stunts. Seriously.
Be safe out there!