A lot has changed since Albert Eadie and Robert Walker Smith teamed up to create the world’s first motorized quadricycle in the early 1900s. For one thing, early models didn’t even have brakes. And they wouldn’t be much use off-road.
But with great power comes great responsibility—and risk, especially if you ignore laws, safety regulations, and don’t have the right training. In fact, the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) estimates that more than 101,200 people nationwide were treated in emergency rooms in 2016 due to ATV-related injuries. Worse, a quarter of them were under age 16.
So how can you have fun with your ATV and still stay safe?
Know your state’s regulations
– Since there are no federal regulations on age limits for riding ATVs, you’ll have to research regulations in your state.
– Many states require ATV riders to be 16+ years old and have a safety certificate.
– In Texas, however, all operators of ATVs under the age of 14 must be “accompanied by and be under the direct supervision of” a parent or guardian, or by a person over the age of 18 who is authorized by a parent or guardian.
– The CPSC recommends that all drivers, regardless of age, take a safety training course.
– Check out the ATV Safety Institute’s website for information about training programs.
– Know enough first aid to treat minor injuries, drive with a first aid kit, and have the means and know-how to get help in an emergency.
– Only ride an ATV that is appropriate for your size and age.
– A number of states require an approved helmet and eye protection—especially if you’re a minor.
– To combat scrapes and cuts, wear gloves, long sleeves and pants, and over-the-ankle boots.
Know your ATV
– Read manufacturer’s instructions, and never let more than the stated number of passengers ride along.
– Don’t let kids and teens drive ATVs with passengers.
– Never ride on a three-wheel ATV.
Right time, right place
– Only ride your ATV during daylight hours.
– Make sure you ride at a safe speed, on designated ATV trails.
– Never ride on paved surfaces or public roads, unless you’re crossing them.