Practicing ATV Safety helps protect our sport and more importantly yourself. Understanding ATV safety and applying it regularly is important if you want to pursue riding ATVs as a recreational activity. ATV safety courses are offered all over and is highly recommended if just starting out on an ATV.
With all of the anti-motorist groups wanting to shut down all public lands to motorized use, every ATV accident gives them more ammunition for their cause. Unfortunately due to the nature of our sport accidents do happen whether practicing ATV safety or not. But by practicing ATV safety the number of severe accidents can be reduced.
The first part of ATV safety is the ATV itself. Your ATV should be properly maintained and in good working order for each ride. Read the owners manual and understand what ATV maintenance should be done and when. If you are mechanically inclined you can perform much of the maintenance yourself. Otherwise have the maintenance and any repairs performed by an authorized mechanic.
Always give your ATV a quick inspection before each ride. Most owners manuals will have a pre-ride inspection for you to follow. Some things to check are the condition of the tires (wear and proper pressure), the ATV brake system, any loose hardware and fluid levels.
Some states have ATV Laws and Regulations requiring the ATV to be registered. Some states also require ATV insurance to protect the rider and others in the event of an accident. Compliance with state ATV laws and regulations helps protect the sport and encourages ATV safety.
The second part of ATV safety is the rider. Make sure the ATV you will be riding is one you can physically handle. One basic rule-of-thumb is: When standing on the footrests, there should be a minimum of three inches of clearance between the seat and the crotch of the pants. This ensures you have adequate room for maneuvering the ATV over rough terrain.
Riding an ATV requires strength and flexibility in order to control it effectively. The bigger the ATV the more strength and flexibility required. Lack of proper strength and flexibility leads to fatigue which causes poor judgment and slow reaction times, both of which can and will cause accidents. Proper ATV fitness is an important part of ATV safety.
The rider should always wear protective gear. Wearing the proper protective gear can reduce the chance of injury and make your ride more comfortable. A helmet is the most important piece of protective gear, get one and wear it or don’t ride! Some states have a helmet law requiring the use of helmets. Proper eye protection as in ATV goggles or a face shield will keep the dust and debris out of your eyes so you can see the trail.
A good pair of padded gloves protect your hands from rocks, branches, and other debris and also offer protection during a fall. A pair of boots protect your feet and ankles from injuries. Long pants and a long sleeve shirt or jacket offer added protection in a fall and protects against scratches from branches along the trail.
When learning to ride an ATV concentrate on the basics: stopping and turning. Keep your eyes on the trail and pick your easiest line of travel. When going over bumps, stand on the footrests with your knees slightly bend and try to absorb the bumps with your legs. Always ride within your comfort zone, if you are not comfortable more practice is required. Don’t ride beyond your skill level. Always ride with someone else on another ATV and watch their form and style.
By understanding and applying ATV Safety you help everyone but mostly yourself. As your skill level improves help others learn responsible ATV riding and ATV safety. Lets not give the anti-motorist group any more support!