School’s out and that means the recreational pursuits are in full swing. Swimming, hiking, beach volleyball and cycling are just a few of the many fun activities for young and old alike. If off-roading is your thing, especially on an all-terrain vehicle (ATV), then you’re in good company.
ATV use is popular with teens. Sadly, some youngsters don’t usually wear helmets — an unnecessary safety risk that could prove deadly. To keep yourself and your family safe off-roading this summer, follow these six ATV safety tips.
1. Know the Law
ATV age rules vary by state, so it’s critical to know the law wherever you are. This is especially true if you’re visiting another state while on vacation and plan to operate ATVs.
In Missouri, for instance, children under 16 are allowed to operate ATVs, but must be supervised unless they’re on land owned by their parent or guardian, according to Farm Safety. In Utah, riders and passengers under 18 must wear a helmet, according to Utah DNR, and riders between the ages of 8 and 15 must also possess an OHV education certificate before operating an OHV on public land.
It’s also important to remember that children should only operate an ATV that is suitable for their size. If you’re purchasing your teen an ATV for the first time, bring your kid along to ensure you find one that’s a comfortable fit.
2. Wear a Helmet
This one should go without saying, but teens ride without helmets all too often. A head injury can lead to brain injury or death, so make sure your children always wear a helmet.
Not just any helmet will do. Use one suitable for motocross or motorcycle riding, which covers ATV, dirt- and minibike riding. According to the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission, the applicable standards are Snell M-2005, M-2010, CMS/CMR 20073 and DOT FMVSS 218.
Once you find the right helmet, make sure the fit is appropriate — a helmet should be comfortable and snug. Take your child with you to the store when it’s time for them to get fitted for a new one. Teach young children how to put one on, and always be the example by wearing one yourself out on the trail.
3. Protect Your Eyes With Goggles
You don’t have to be ejected from an ATV to sustain serious injury. A pair of goggles or a face shield will protect your eyes if you come into contact with a low-hanging branch or if you must pass between shrubbery. Goggles should be free from scratches, offer adequate ventilation and fasten securely.
4. Ditch the Shorts
It may be hot on the trail, but shorts and a tee-shirt don’t offer sufficient protection. Wear long pants and a long-sleeved shirt to protect your body from scrapes and cuts. Gloves are necessary, too, as they’ll provide protection and comfort while riding.
When it comes to footwear, wear shoes that prevent your feet from slipping off the footrests. Ideally, boots that are at least ankle height are best for providing support — mid-calf-height boots are an even better choice.
5. Ensure Your ATV is at Peak Operational Capacity
Just as you regularly check a few things on your car, do likewise with your ATV. Inspect the brakes, throttle, tires and lights. Secure your lounger, check the oil and inspect the drivetrain. Make sure you have enough fuel for the duration of your trip.
6. Never Drink and Ride
Operating any vehicle or machinery under the influence of drugs or alcohol is illegal. Don’t put yourself or others in danger.
ATVs are a lot of fun, but don’t allow those good times to be overshadowed by improper preparation, which can lead to a summer spent indoors recovering from injuries — or worse.
Check out all the motorcycle and powersport parts available on NAPA Online or trust one of our 17,000 NAPA AutoCare locations for routine maintenance and repairs. For more information on ATV safety and maintenance, chat with a knowledgeable expert at your local NAPA AUTO PARTS store.
Photos courtesy of Matt Keegan.
Matt Keegan has maintained his love for cars ever since his father taught him kicking tires can be one way to uncover a problem with a vehicle’s suspension system. He since moved on to learn a few things about coefficient of drag, G-forces, toe-heel shifting, and how to work the crazy infotainment system in some random weekly driver. Matt is a member of the Washington Automotive Press Association and is a contributor to various print and online media sources.