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Guide for ATV Safety

All-terrain vehicles (ATVs) are thrilling to drive and an enjoyable way to explore the outdoors. They can be practical too — carrying supplies or materials quickly and efficiently on large properties. ATVs are made to travel natural terrains, so you can access places you couldn't otherwise drive to in a vehicle.

However, ATVs can be dangerous when not operated with care and responsibility. So whether you have one for work, chores or recreational use, you should follow these safety tips.

Group of people riding their ATVs down a trail path.

Teach Safe Driving

No one should operate an ATV without understanding how to drive it safely. Some ATVs can travel as fast as 60 MPH and are known for tipping easily. Since ATVs belong off-road, the terrain will likely include many dips, hills, bumps and obstacles.

  • Always wear protective gear, including an approved helmet and protective clothing.
  • Don't double up. Most ATVs are designed for a sole driver, meaning passengers can pose a safety threat.
  • Take a safety driving course. The ATV Safety Institute® offers in-person classes as well as e-courses.
  • Know the ATV's limits. Safe driving means not pushing the ATV past what it can handle, like taking a steep hill or driving through high water.
  • Keep devices secured. Not only could phone distraction cause an accident, but you don't want to lose your phone or any other device on a trail after hitting a bump. Keep your devices safe in a zippered pocket or waterproof pouch.

Maintain Your ATV

Before every ride, you should perform an inspection of your vehicle. An ATV safety check should include looking over:

  • Tire pressure
  • Headlights and taillights
  • Fuel level
  • Oil level
  • Air filter

Do a visual check to ensure nothing looks loose or damaged. Then, do a short test run to ensure the brakes work correctly and everything shifts smoothly.

Your whole check should only take five to ten minutes, but it can significantly reduce the risk of an accident or emergency. Riding off-road can quickly exacerbate a small problem, so a pre-ride check and maintenance are essential steps to take for your safety.

To keep your ATV in top condition:

  • Store it in a sheltered place, away from the elements.
  • Have it serviced regularly, fixing any known issues.
  • Don't let an inexperienced driver use the ATV without training.
  • Routinely change the oil and keep the air filter clean.
  • Wash the ATV when it gets muddy to avoid rusting.
  • Check the CV belt and replace it as needed.
  • Maintain the coolant level and tire pressure.
  • Don't ride in hazardous areas.

Protect Yourself With a Policy

ATVs can be dangerous if they aren't handled correctly. Even if you do everything in your power to be safe, they are expensive to replace or repair if something goes wrong. In some areas, your ATV is required by law to be insured.

Getting insurance coverage could include restrictions on who can drive your ATV, so be sure to talk to your agent about the policy details.

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