ATV Safety Tips from

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   Website updated:   December 21, 2017 at 12:01 AM EST.  

ATV Safety Tips
By:    Andrew Tuttle, Rider / Author

All terrain vehicles (ATV) are fun motorized vehicles designed for different types of terrain. ATVs are designed to be used off-road and generally in designated trail areas. It’s an exciting sport and they can serve well as a valuable work tool. However, ATVs are also highly dangerous if not used properly and safely, especially for children. Understanding the correct guidelines for ATV use is imperative in protecting yourself and those around you.

ATV Rescue Team in ACTION!
ATV rescue trailer at ATV rollover accident scene.

ATV Golden Rules

There are certain rules every ATV rider should abide by; it will ensure safety and prevent dangerous situations. The most important thing for any rider to do is wear a DOT compliant helmet. ATV’s are not meant to be on paved roads or highways and should only be enjoyed in appropriate areas such as designated trailways. Always ride at a safe speed. Never operate an ATV or any other machine under the influence of drugs and alcohol. If you own a single rider ATV, never allow a passenger to ride with you. If you own an ATV meant for two people, ensure that you only allow one other person. When purchasing an ATV ensure that it is appropriate for your age level, and always supervise riders that under the age of 16. Ensure that all riders treat the ATV as the machine that it is and not as a toy.

Ensure that all riders treat the ATV as the machine that it is and not as a toy.

The ATV Safety Institute’s Golden Rules

Rules for Young Riders

Off Highway Vehicle Safety Provided by Florida Safety and Recreation

ATV Injury Prevention


Any novice rider should take advantage of ATV training courses. Handling an ATV can be a challenge and riders must master the basics of ATV driving before attempting anything difficult or moving at high speeds. ATV’s are very easy to overturn or lose control. Not to mention, you have the added dangers of colliding with objects like trees or other motorized vehicles. An ATV training course will provide safety instruction and ATV handling information. Any new ATV driver (children and adults alike) should take advantage of training courses. Courses are offered by the ATV Safety Institute, local ATV riding groups, state departments, and highway departments. Contact ATV manufacturers or distributors who are part of the Specialty Vehicle Institute of America, they can offer you free trainings.

ATV Safety Information Provided by California State Parks

List of trainings offered through the ATV Safety Institute

Example of State offered ATV safety trainings.

Remember... Rescuers need training too!

 Safety Gear

ATV riding is like any other sport and you need the necessary equipment and clothing to ensure your safety. It is imperative that your head, eyes, hands, feet and all exposed flesh are protected at all times. While riding an ATV you will exposed to the elements as well as debris and foliage. You must also protect yourself in the case of a fall or accident. Always wear a helmet, gloves, ATV boots (protect the ankles), goggles, chest protector, long sleeved pants and shirts.

Safety Gear

Article based on the importance of safety gear for ATVs.

Safety gear messages

ATV Safety for Kids

Children under the age of 6 should never be on an ATV, period. They should not be passengers and especially not drivers. Young children do not have the physical or mental ability to handle a powerful motorized vehicle. Teens under the age of 16 years should never be allowed to drive an adult ATV (engines over 90 cubic centimeters). The CPSC recommends that young children and teens use ATV’s with an engine size of 90 cc or below. All ATV’s come with manufacturer age recommendations, they should be strictly followed.

There are ATV’s designed for 6 -11 year olds ( Y-6 models which with 70 and below cc engines). These ATV’s only go up to 15 miles per hour which will ensure that the child does not lose control of the ATV. ATV’s for 12-15 year olds (Y-12 models with 70 - 90 cc engines) reach speeds of 25 miles per hour. Most of these ATV’s also have devices which can limit the speeds even further.

Children who will be riding or driving an ATV should wear all safety gear and go through an ATV safety course. This will ensure their safety out on the trails and protect them against dangerous accidents.

Information on ATVs and children

ATV facts for children.

Snapshot of ATV related injuries in one Cincinnati hospital.

EMA Off Road Rescue Vehicles
Kawasaki 4X4 Mule with All Terrain Rescue Patient Trailer

 Any Licenses Required

Every US State has laws that oversee the ownership and use of ATVs. However, these laws are created by each individual state. Therefore, each state has their specific requirements and laws when it comes to ATV licensing, titling and registration. There are some states that require you to have a special ATV license, meet minimum age requirements, use safety equipment. It is important that you follow your own state’s regulations and gather all pertinent documents prior to riding.

State of Missouri ATV requirements

State of Idaho Frequently Asked Questions regarding ATV Licensing

Oregon ATV Information


ATV insurance can be mandatory depending on your state laws and regulations. It can be required in state owned or public parks. They may require proof of insurance in order to ride on the trails. Insurance policies vary in price, it is really dependent on what you need covered and if it is included in your homeowners or auto insurance policy. The only way to know the exact price of ATV insurance is by speaking to an insurance representative who can handle your specific needs and coverage.

Frequently asked questions about ATV insurance

New York requires ATV riders to have liability insurance

USDA offers ATV insurance information for a state park.

ATV / UTV Rescue Teams Deliver!
Polaris 4X4 Ranger 800 XP and Off Road Rescue Trailer.


There are approximately 9.5 million ATVs in use today and over 150,000 reported ATV injuries annually. This startling statistic is most likely due to the fact that ATV’s are designed to be more powerful, faster and larger. The majority of accidents are rollovers, which is essentially when the ATV flips over and smashes the rider. These accidents are extremely dangerous for children who are smaller in weight and size. There are injuries that are specific to ATV accidents such as: foot amputations (foot gets caught in chain), clothesline injuries to the head or neck (high speed driving and unknowingly striking a fence or clothesline). Even though children make up 15 percent of ATV riders, they account for 27 percent of ATV injuries and 28 percent of ATV related deaths.

ATV injury and death related statistics

Startling statistics about children and ATVs

National ATV Statistics

ATVs are NOT toys

Parents and children need to be educated on ATV safety. In 2007, 27 percent of injures happened to children under the age of 16. ATV’s are not toys. In fact, they are classified as sport or utility vehicles. If children are going to ride ATVs they need to have strict guidelines and trainings. Children are not allowed to drive cars! ATV’s have the capacity to reach 100 miles per hour. Protect children by providing supervision, trainings, proper gear and clothing, and age appropriate ATVs. Failing to do could result in injury and even death, Between 1995 and 2005 ATVs have killed approximately 1,218 children under the age of 16.

Children and ATV Safety

Organization interested in banning children from riding ATVs

Dangers of children on ATVs

Written By:    Andrew Tuttle   AndrewT

Submitted By:     Genesis Nelson, Researcher

Traffic Safety Statistics, 

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