Contributed by Jason Mueller
ATV riding may just be one of the best activities that you can do outdoors. It is also an activity that needs to be done safely whether you have been riding for years or are completely new to the sport. When it comes to having fun riding an ATV, there is no time for an accident while on a long and rugged trail or even if you are riding in an ATV event and taking a few precautions can really help to ensure that your ride goes smoothly and ends with great memories instead of bandages or a cast. To prevent an accident while on your ATV and keep it as safe as possible when you are on the trail, keep these tips in mind before you hop on your ATV.
Never Ride Alone
First and foremost, when you are planning a ride be sure to have a buddy go along with you. Accidents can and do happen all the time and riding alone can be very dangerous. Even if you simply run out of gas or have a mechanical issue, having a friend around with a way out can really help when a bad situation arises. On top of that, nothing makes an ATV ride quite as fun as when you have someone to ride and have fun with.
Stay On The Trail
Unless you are an experienced trail rider and know your way around the wilderness, be sure to stay on the trail at all times when you ride. Venturing off into the woods may seem like a great idea when you are out for a rugged ride, but getting off the trail is a great way to get lost as well as tear up your ATV. Riding in areas that are not specifically for ATV riding can be a hazard to your ATV just as much as it can be for you. Additionally, there is a good chance that the land is subject to land-use agreements between the ATV club and the land-owner/steward, so leaving the trail is trespassing and jeopardizes those agreements, which may result in the loss of that part of the trail. There is never a reason to head off trail and risk having an accident where other riders may not be able to easily locate you to help.
Wear Your Gear
It may not seem cool to ride with a helmet, but keeping your head safe is extremely important. It is also important to wear the rest of your gear including gloves, boots and goggles during a ride. Your gear was made to help protect you during a ride and should always be worn to cut down the risk that you will be hurt when you are out. This goes for you as well as anyone you may be riding with or anyone that may be riding on the ATV with you. If someone will be riding with you, the ATV should be factory standard to seat two or more safely.
Use the Right-Sized ATV
If it is too large to handle, do not even attempt to ride it. Riders should only ride what they can safely handle and this goes for you as well as anyone that you may ride with. If you have young children or younger teens, never place them on an ATV that has a motor that is too powerful for their age or level of expertise. When you purchase a new ATV, the sales person will be able to show you the right ones for your age as well as your size and level of experience. If you buy one from a seller online or at auction and need to have an ATV shipper (Canada, USA) it to you, be sure that it is the right size before you place your order.
Be Serious When Riding
There is probably nothing riskier than someone showing off on an ATV. When you are riding, you need to make sure that you never do anything foolish to try to impress someone. Trying to do stunts or other things that you have never done or should not be doing in the first place is a good way to have a dangerous accident.
Alcohol and Fatigue
It is also wise to never ride when you are tired and especially if you are drinking or taking medication that could cause you to become drowsy or not be able to handle the ATV safely. Fatigued or drunk driving is just as dangerous on an ATV as they would be if you were driving a car down the freeway and there is never a reason to risk your safety or the safety of others.
While these are all well-known issues that can affect the safety of an ATV rider, it is wise to strictly adhere to them to make sure that you, and any passengers you may be riding with will remain safe while venturing out on the trail. ATV riding is known to be very extreme as well as a fun and exciting way to spend a day in the woods or on the dirt track and with that excitement comes a great deal of responsibility to keep things safe at all times.
The tips above are obvious and obvious for a reason. Most, if not all, are practically unwritten rules in ATV world. Safety is always a priority and most rules factor in safety for you and others. Also, it’s a good idea to keep in mind the “house rules” when riding a track or designated ATV trails and knowing provincial/state rules like spark arrestors.