Safety For ATV Riders
ATV’s (All Terrain Vehicles) are popular with adults and youths alike. They can be used for recreation and are fun to ride, and they can also be useful for work, such as plowing snow or towing heavier items. One thing that we must always keep in mind, however, is that ATV’s can also be dangerous if not operated safely.
ATV rider safety is something that needs to be taken serious, especially for younger, less experienced driver. According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), ATV’s are responsible for almost 135,000 injuries and 800 deaths in the United States every year. Here are some ATV rider safety tips to help you and your friends and family enjoy riding an ATV safely.
- Drivers under the age of 16 should not operate an ATV. The American Academy of Pediatrics has strongly recommended that children that are less than 16-years-old, should be prohibited from driving an ATV. Although an ATV can be fun, we must remember that they are not toys. Most injuries that happen to younger children driving an ATV can be attributed to their size and inexperience with driving. ATV’s are powerful vehicles and may be difficult to handle for children. Even at 16, it is recommended that adult supervision is present to ensure ATV rider safety.
- Always wear protective Gear. It is important that you have a DOT-compliant helmet, protective glasses, long sleeves and pants, over-the-ankle boots and riding gloves. Most fatal accidents happen when the driver doesn’t wear the proper safety gear and falls, hitting his or her head. Although, they may not look as cool or can be hot at times, a helmet can save your live. Considering that most riders like to drive their ATV’s through wooded areas, protective glasses will protect your eyes from rocks, sticks or bugs that fly around and can cause real damage.
- Take an ATV safety course. Before you are allowed to get on the road in a car or motorcycle, you must first take and pass a safety course. ATV’s should be treated with the same respect. They are powerful and fast vehicles, an ATV rider safety course can prevent serious injuries, or even death. Riders of all ages should take a course to learn the appropriate behavior when driving an ATV.
- No more than one driver at a time on ATVs. All-terrain vehicles are made to be operated with one rider at a time. You need to manipulate your weight while driving an ATV in order to control the vehicle, more than one rider at a time can be dangerous and make the ATV less stable. The ATV’s design may not take into account the disparity or extra weight two riders can put on the ATV, making it more apt to roll over. Also, having another rider while driving the ATV can be distracting to the driver, causing an accident.
- Do not drive an ATV on concrete or asphalt roads. ATV are specifically designed to be driven off road. Unlike cars and other vehicles that are made to be driven on public roads, ATVs are not equip with the proper safety equipment needed to drive safely on public roads. They are also not designed to be driven on concrete or asphalt roads, which can make them unstable, hard to control and apt to roll over. If a road needs to be crossed, the driver needs to ensure that no cars or trucks are nearby and cross the road slowly to ensure ATV rider safety. Remember that an ATV’s tires may be covered with dirt and mud, making it even harder to handle on concrete and asphalt roads.
- Do not speed. ATV’s are designed for driving at a certain speed safely, especially when driving on unpredictable terrain. Driving an ATV in excessive speeds can cause the ATV to be unstable, which in turn decreases your control of the vehicle and can lead to serious accidents.
- Do not drive an ATV under the influence of drugs or alcohol. ATV’s are known for their recreational use at bonfires, at camping, or just hanging outdoors with friends and family. These are also occasions where drinking and or drug use also common place. Many people are tempted to drive an ATV even under the influence, which is a very bad idea. Like driving a car, or any other motor vehicle, driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs (even over the counter and prescription drugs) can greatly impair your judgment, reaction time and thinking process. Driving under the influence not only puts your life in danger, but also the lives of everyone around. ATV rider safety doesn’t just apply to the driver, but also those around that can be effected.
- Always have a communication device with you. Anytime you want to venture into the wild with your ATV, you should always have a cell phone or walkie talkie on you at all times. It is easy to get carried away in the fun of driving an ATV, and you may drive out further than you meant to. In case you run into any sort of problems, you may need to call for help. With the unpredictability of the wild, you could get into an accident, or your ATV can get stuck and even malfunction, ATV rider safety includes having a plan for such an event. You never know when you will need help, it’s always better to be safe than sorry
- Do not attempt stunts and tricks on you ATV. Most injuries happen because the rider is not operating the vehicle properly and ignoring ATV rider safety rules. It is very important that we drive our ATV’s responsibly and avoid tricks or trying crazy stunts in order to impress our friends and family. You also want to avoid contact with other people, whether they are also riding an ATV or not.
- Always use common sense. If you avoid acting impulsively and always keep ATV rider safety in mind, you can avoid most accidents and injuries. If it feels dangerous, then it probably is.