All-terrain vehicles (ATVs) can be a lot of fun—if you use them the right way.
ATVs are strictly meant for off-road use. Despite this, many riders take them on public roads anyway.
That choice can take an unfortunate turn: Between 2007 and 2011, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) reported that approximately 1,700 ATV riders died in crashes on public roads in the United States.
The research details where, who and how most accidents happen. Read the IIHS summary to learn why it’s such a bad idea to use your ATV on a public road. Then read the tips below to learn more about staying safe on your ATV.
ATV safety tips
- Never let minors drive or ride. Anyone riding an ATV should be at least 16 years old and have a valid driver’s license.
- Always wear a helmet. Choose a motorcycle helmet that’s certified by the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) and/or the Snell Memorial Foundation. The IIHS research shows that many fatally injured riders failed to wear a helmet.
It’s also a good idea to wear goggles, long sleeves, long pants, over-the-ankle boots and gloves.
- Never drink and ride. The majority of accidents examined in the IIHS report involved alcohol. Think of your ATV as a car, and don’t drink and ride.
- Consider taking a hands-on safety course. Ask your local ATV dealership about classes in your community.
- Remember, only one (or two) at a time. ATVs are designed to accommodate a specific number of people. Don’t go over the limit—and take note of the maximum weight as well.
- Pay attention to weather conditions. Rain, wind and snow can all make for unsafe rides.
- Follow your manual’s service recommendations. Like cars, ATVs need oil changes, brake inspections and more in order to operate safely.
- Let someone know where and how long you’ll be riding. Also take a fully-charged cell phone with you. Many times ATVs are out in the woods, so it’s important to be prepared if you encounter a problem.
You’ll also want to make sure your ATV is insured. ATV insurance coverage can include collision, comprehensive, bodily injury and property damage liability, and uninsured/uninsured motorist. Check with a professional like an Erie Insurance Agent to learn more and get a quote.