ATV Safe Riding Practices

< Back to main article list

The top 10 rules

If you’re an ATV enthusiast, you want to be sure that your favourite recreational activity is safe for you and your family. Remember that most accidents are preventable if you always put safety first.

To help you stay accident-free, here are 1o time-tested ATV safe riding practices:

1. Maintain and inspect your ATV to keep it safe for driving.
2. Always wear protective gear.
3. Never ride an ATV under the influence of alcohol or drugs; itís illegal and perilous.
4. Supervise young people who are riding ATVs.
5. Be extra-cautious when crossing roads and highways.
6. Remember that fatigue can impair your driving.
7. Be careful when towing trailers
8. Watch for animals to avoid collisions
9. Be prepared for emergency situations
10. Take extra precautions when driving in groups

1. Maintain and inspect your ATV to keep it safe for driving.

If your ATV is not well-maintained, problems such as failing brakes or fuel leakage can lead to accidents. Take the time to do some basic ATV inspection and maintenance before heading out. Some key things to look for:

  • Low air pressure.
  • Poorly adjusted brakes.
  • Loose nuts and bolts.
  • Leaking oil and gas tanks.
     

2. Always wear protective gear.

Many injuries can be prevented by wearing basic protective gear. No matter how long the ride or where you’re using your vehicle, here are the essentials:

  • Helmets which protect the head from serious injuries.
  • Goggles or helmet with visor to protect eyes.
  • Jacket, pants and gloves to prevent skin abrasions should you be in an accident.
  • Boots for better control of pedals.
     

3. Never ride an ATV under the influence of alcohol or drugs; itís illegal and perilous.

Riding an ATV while impaired is a serious offense punishable under the Criminal Code of Canada. You could easily be injured or cause an accident.

  • Alcohol and drug use on ATVs must not be tolerated.
  • Call the police if you suspect somebody is using alcohol or drugs while driving an ATV.
     

4. Supervise young people who are riding ATVs.

Young people may be more prone to risk-taking, make sure you supervise them closely. Here are some tips:

  • Make sure the ATV is designed by the manufacturer for use by young people.
  • Make sure that they are old enough to make safe judgment calls; not all youngsters have the skills to operate an ATV.
  • They must always wear helmets when driving.
  • Remember that it’s safer to accompany your kids on ATVs.
     

5. Be extra-cautious when crossing roads and highways.

ATVs are designed to be used off-road only. If you must cross a road:

  • Come to a complete stop on the shoulder.
  • Check your visibility and ensure that there’s nothing obstructing your path.
  • Yield the right of way to all oncoming traffic.
  • Before you hit the road, make sure you comply with all the requirements regarding driver's licenses and vehicle permits which may vary depending on the province and/or where you drive your ATV.
     

6. Remember that fatigue can impair your driving.

If you’re on a long excursion, you risk getting tired, which can have an impact on how well you control your ATV. Here are some tips to avoid fatigue:

  • Know exactly what distance you have to cover; divide your trip into segments with breaks.
  • Stop and get off your ATV on a regular basis; do some back and leg stretching.
     

7. Be careful when towing trailers

Some ATVs are equipped to tow trailers for camping, hunting and other recreational activities. However, these trailers can easily tip and cause accidents if they are not properly secured. Here are some general guidelines:

  • Make sure your trailer has a secure fastening mechanism.
  • Don’t overload your trailer.
  • Don’t let anyone sit on the trailer.
  • Slow down when you’re towing a trailer.
     

8. Watch for animals to avoid collisions

During your ATV excursion you may come across wildlife in parks or even cattle on farmland. Colliding with an animal could cause you and your family members serious injury. Follow these guidelines:

  • If you see animals, give them time to move off your trail.
  • Avoid startling animals with excessive noise.
  • Look for trail markers that indicate the presence of local wildlife in the area.
     

9. Be prepared for emergency situations

You can’t always prevent accidents on ATVs but you can be prepared for emergency situations. Here are a few tips:

  • Stock up your first-aid kit regularly and ensure that everybody in your family knows where it is.
  • Get first aid and CPR training; encourage your kids to do so.
  • Always carry emergency telephone numbers such as police and local hospitals.
     

10. Take extra precautions when driving in groups

It can be an exhilarating experience to drive your ATV with other ATV vehicles, especially with family and friends. But it’s important to take extra care to avoid accidents. Remember this:

  • Choose a “leader” and follow the leading ATV vehicle.
  • Never drive your ATV “double”; stay single file.
  • Limit your pack to 3-4 vehicles.