Top 10 ATV Safety Tips

The Importance of ATV Safety

Although ATV does not stand for A Terrific Vehicle (it stands for All Terrain Vehicle), you can make a point that they are terrific. They can be used both for practical uses, such as moving around extremely heavy equipment and can also be used purely for sport. While this makes them versatile machines, they must be handled carefully like any other vehicle. There are plenty of reasons to be even more careful with an ATV than with a car, especially since ATVs don't have seatbelts or any protection from falling over and inverting. While that idea might sound scary to new drivers, there's no need to worry. With the right ATV safety tips, you can minimize the risk of an accident and enjoy your time using your favourite vehicle. 

Who Is Responsible For ATV Safety?

Similar to that of a car or truck, safety surrounding using an ATV is primarily the operator's responsibility. While those in the surrounding area are responsible for not jumping in front of a multi-ton vehicle travelling at high speeds, the driver must be on the lookout for pedestrians and any hazards that could hurt anyone or damage the vehicle. These hazards could be large, stationary objects, other vehicles, and even the ground. Even though handling uneven off-road terrain is what an ATV is designed for (after all, it is in the name), doing so recklessly can still end up badly. Although ATV insurance will likely cover you financially, it can't help in injury prevention. Follow these ATV safety tips to minimize the chances of something going wrong.

ATV Safety Tips

While it may seem overwhelming to see all the ways that driving an ATV could go wrong, these ATV safety tips should be familiar to anyone who's driven a car or a motorcycle. In some ways, it does combine many of the safety aspects of these two vehicles..

1. Know Which ATV is Right For You

There are plenty of types of ATVs out there. You might hear models like Polaris Sportsman, Yamaha Raptor, Yamaha Kodiak, Can-Am Outlander, and Polaris Outlaw and have little to no knowledge of the difference between these machines. Since ATVs are pricey, with the least expensive ones coming in at around $5000 and many going for more than double that price, This means having to research to find which one you want.

Some ATVs are more friendly towards larger riders, while others perform better when ridden by someone smaller, so picking one of the correct size is important. Some are more suited for practical uses, while others are designed solely for sport. Some can help ease in a rookie rider, while others are best left only for seasoned veterans. Given that things such as size and horsepower are also factors that you may want differing amounts of, you have plenty of options. Take the time and research which model works best for you. 

2. Inspect and Maintain The Vehicle Regularly

Like anything with a motor, your vehicle requires regular ATV maintenance. Luckily, many ways you maintain an ATV are similar to other vehicles.

For example, you're going to want to change the oil every once in a while. Depending on which model of ATV you have, the amount of time between changes varies. Some require oil changes every 25 hours of use, while others can go over 100 hours without a change and be completely fine. The same can be said for tightening bolts, cleaning air filters, ensuring the tires have the right amount of pressure, checking on the belt, and cleaning the ATV. An essential part of this ATV safety tip is to know and understand your vehicle.

You may also need to do a more thorough check after a long time of not using it, such as the first time you bring it out after winter. This might include treating the gas as well to be on the safe side.

3. Wear The Correct Safety Gear

While safety gear might not be the most exciting thing in the world to talk about, it plays an important role in ATV safety. If you crash, wearing the proper protective gear will help lower your risk of injury. Not only does this protect you from minor injuries, but it could also save your life. ATV safety gear should be worn from head to toe and cover your whole body, even if you're out in July in 30-degree-plus weather with humidity that's way too high. A list of recommended protective gear is as follows:

  • An appropriate helmet
  • Goggles or other eye protection if your helmet doesn't provide any
  • Gloves capable of protecting your hands from debris
  • A protective vest and pants designed specifically for ATV riders (often called riding gear)
  • Elbow, knee and shin pads
  • Riding boots

4. Take Lessons First

As simple as it may seem, taking lessons is a great ATV safety tip. Do you remember what your kid (or even you) drove like before taking driving lessons? How about after? There was likely a huge improvement after they took lessons, right? ATV lessons would be the same. ATV driving lessons will increase your driving skills and decision-making skills, allowing you to feel more comfortable on your ATV and have an enjoyable ride.

5. Pack Emergency Supplies

As much as the chances are low, there's always a chance something terrible could happen and you could face an emergency. You can, however, make the situation much easier to handle by packing things in advance. A list of good ideas to get you started includes:

  • Any maintenance tools that you use on your ATV
  • Extra gas
  • A phone and charger
  • Maps, GPS, compass and other navigational devices
  • First aid kit
  • Water
  • Non-perishable food

6. Know Where and When You Should Be Driving

This one is much more complicated than it can seem, as there is both a legal and a practical side to this.

Although the vast majority of off-road vehicles aren’t allowed on roads in Ontario, there is an exception for ATV’s. If you do drive on the road with one, you need to have a valid, G2, M2 or higher license, and obey all rules on the road similar to any other vehicle. You are also not allowed to disrupt nature. The place you're going to may have areas of land restricted for recreational use. Unless you're exploring the joys of ATVing on your own property, it's also very important to know whether you're going to a public place such as a park or open area where you're more likely to have to deal with government regulations and that will likely be more crowded, or a private one where you will probably have to pay, and the property owner will most likely be setting the rules you have to follow. The rules for these areas vary greatly and have too many nuances to discuss here, but it is up to you to know what you can and can't get away with before heading out and ensuring you decide on going to a place that's right for you. Once you arrive, follow all the etiquette and rules nearby. For example, if you are taking your ATV out on a trail, stick to the authorized trails and pay attention to trail rules.

On the more practical side, ensure you can handle the place you're going to. Although you should be bringing navigational equipment like mentioned above, it's best that you know and understand the ins and outs of the place you're going to. Also, make sure you're going to a place where you can handle the terrain. A new driver might need help in a place that has more obstacles, so make sure that you're driving in a place that is appropriate for your skill level. Beginner trails exist for a reason and are a great way for you to get a hold of things as you gain the skills needed to tackle something more challenging. Also, remember that ATVs are not designed for paved roads but are intended for more bumpy, natural trails. 

Another part of this ATV safety tip is to check the weather before you go. Something such as a storm could make things dangerous. Although ATVs are less likely to be impacted by things like water and mud, they are not immune and still expose you to things such as wind and lightning. 

7. Only Drive Sober

As much as this should be obvious to everyone, it needs to be mentioned. Driving a motorized vehicle under the influence of drugs or alcohol is unsafe and illegal. Half of all ATV-related deaths in Canada involve the use of drugs and alcohol, so following this tip might be the most essential ATV safety tip out there. There is no excuse for endangering not just yourself but everyone around you. 

8. Don't Ride On Your Own

As much as riding on your own can feel freeing, it's best to have someone else there in the event something goes wrong. There are all sorts of situations, from an injury, to your ATV getting stuck and needing to be pushed out to your phone breaking when you need to call someone, where having a second person there can be a lifesaver. Furthermore, make sure you can trust the person you're riding alongside. Don't bring someone who's virtually a stranger; bring a friend or family member. Besides, it's more fun with someone like that to talk to while you break, right?

9. Don't Carry Passengers

ensure that the person you're bringing has their own ATV. As much as it sounds fun to have your spouse or your kid ride up in the seat with you, there's plenty of potential for things to go wrong, especially since these things don't have seat belts. You will almost certainly be facing lots of uneven terrain, which can make holding on a challenge for someone, especially if that person is more vulnerable, such as a kid or older adult. 

10. Be Cautious When Driving

As much as it's easy to lose yourself in the freedom of being able to travel off road and take on terrain that you otherwise wouldn't be able to, don't get too excited too fast.

Trying to attempt a challenge that's beyond your skill level is unwise. Understand how fast you can safely go and avoid excessive speed. Avoid things like jumps for thrills. The tricks in ATV Off-Road Fury might look easy when you're holding a video game controller, but they are a work of fiction and completely unrealistic for anyone to actually perform. Even the real daredevils who do fancy stuff in the air with their ATVs have years of professional practice and building themselves up and likely seriously injured themselves several times while training. Trying to copy them is a very bad idea and unsafe, as the chances of injury skyrocket.

If you ever have any doubt about whether or not you should attempt anything for safety reasons, it's always best to aer on the side of caution. A few seconds of thrill isn't worth the risk of a severe injury or potentially even worse.

Have Fun

Although there is a lot to keep in mind when handling an ATV, it's also important to remember that they are a recreational vehicle. This means you should be having fun when you drive one. As long as you keep these ATV safety tips in mind when you’re out there, you’ll probably be fine and will be able to enjoy this great outdoors hobby. 

This content is written by our Morison Insurance team. All information posted is merely for educational and informational purposes. It is not intended as a substitute for professional advice. Should you decide to act upon any information in this article, you do so at your own risk. While the information on this website has been verified to the best of our abilities, we cannot guarantee that there are no mistakes or errors.

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