Five steps to ATV safety

“We see it with first-time buyers of ATVs: they buy it, they bring it home, they hop on, they fire it up, and they take off,” said Ron Nott, director of claims at Grinnell Mutual. “They don’t think about training courses, they don’t think about helmets, and they don’t think about appropriate safety equipment. We have had instances where someone was injured in an accident less than a week after purchasing an ATV.”

Whether you use a new unit or a seasoned machine, Grinnell Mutual recommends learning and practicing these safety habits for your ATV.

1.  Inspect the machine.

“It sounds cliché, but if it’s been stored all winter, you will want to walk around and inspect your ATV,” said Nott.

The National Education Center for Agricultural Safety (NECAS) recommends inspecting for the following:

  • Are tires and wheels in good condition?
  • Are the controls and cables operational?
  • Does the chain have proper slack and is it lubricated?
  • Is riding gear (including a helmet) available?

(Read more about dressing for the elements on your ATV.)

2.  Never ride on public roads.

“ATVs are not intended to be used on public roadways,” said Nott. “We’ve had instances where someone is using the ATV in a farm application, riding in a ditch. The rider pops onto the road, doesn’t think to check before crossing the road, and is broadsided, leading to serious injuries or fatalities.

“It’s like we were taught as kids: If you’re crossing the roadway, please make sure you look both ways before you cross.”

3.  Never carry a passenger on a single-rider vehicle.

“It’s designed for one person for a reason,” said Nott. “When you have the extra person on there,  movement may be restricted and create issues like inability to  access the brakes.”

4.  Ride an ATV that’s right for your age.

Follow the manufacturer recommendations for minimum age and riders. Children under the age of 16 should never operate adult-sized ATVs (90cc or greater) and children under the age of 12 should not operate ATVs. Supervise riders younger than 16.

“I was a kid once, too,” said Nott. “Sometimes kids try to do things with ATVs that they shouldn’t do.” (Read how you can teach respect for the ATV.)

It’s estimated that 107,900 injuries related to ATV accidents were treated in emergency rooms, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission. Roughly 25 percent of these were children younger than 16 years of age.

5. If you’re a first-time owner, educate yourself.

“It’s the old axiom – read the manual,” said Nott. “Follow the instructions and recommendations from the manufacturer. They’re there for a reason. Look at them and follow them. If you’re buying an ATV and it’s your first one, I strongly encourage you to check into the appropriate riding courses in your area for safety.”

To sign up for an ATV RiderCourseā„ , call toll-free at 800-887-2887 or go to http://www.atvsafety.org/. For more ATV safety tips, visit the Front Porch blog at grinnellmutual.com