With more than 16 million people now using all-terrain vehicles for work and fun, ATVs are kicking up more dirt than ever. Whether riding ATVs for work or play, adult or child, the powerful machines can quickly create dangerous situations.
Must-know Rules for Safe Riding
All Terrain Vehicles (ATVs) are frequently used on the farm or ranch to haul supplies or get to the field, but ATVs often serve another purpose: recreation. Unfortunately, children are frequently victims of accidents on ATVs. According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, four out of every 10 people treated each year in emergency rooms for ATV injuries are under age 16. Seventy-seven percent of families with children 16 and under ride as a family recreation activity.
Parents should determine each family member’s readiness to operate an ATV based on physical size, coordination, balance, ability to judge distances, willingness to follow rules, and peripheral vision.
It’s important all family members know and follow necessary precautions every time ATVs are used – for work or for play.
Here are the ATV Safety Institute’s Golden Rules:
- Always wear a helmet and other protective gear.
- Never ride on public roads.
- Never ride under the influence of alcohol or other drugs.
- Never carry a passenger on a single-rider vehicle.
- Ride an ATV that’s right for your age. General guidelines are Age 6 and older – Under 70cc; Age 12 and older – 70cc to 90cc; and Age 16 and older – Over 90cc
- Supervise riders younger than 16 – ATVs are not toys.
- Ride only on designated trails and at a safe speed.
- Take a hands-on safety training course.
Protecting What Matters
ATV’s zooming popularity also has prompted more people to ask about ATV insurance coverage, because accidents can happen. Ohio Farm Bureau members have access to ATV coverage under the Powersports and farm owners’ policies with special Farm Bureau member rates.
ATVS are included in the powersports coverage from Nationwide Insurance, which comes with a 5 percent discount for Ohio Farm Bureau members. Additional savings may apply for insuring multiple vehicles, combining other Nationwide policies with powersports, and completing an ATV safety program.
The coverage includes protection against losses from collisions, vandalism, and damage caused by uninsured and underinsured drivers. Theft of your ATV is also part of the coverage which is important because some policies don’t cover theft.
For farmers, it’s important to know that liability for off-premises recreational use of an ATV is not covered by most farm policies. So if you or your family rides your ATV(s) off your property, you may not have coverage. Make sure your agent is aware of how you use these vehicles, so he or she can ensure the proper coverage is in place. The AgriChoice policy from Nationwide Agribusiness can be endorsed to provide liability coverage for off-premises recreational use of an ATV. Without that endorsement, most policies limit coverage to on-premises use.
For information about protecting your ATV with a Powersports policy or as part of your farmer owner coverage, contact a local Nationwide agent or visit Nationwide’s website for Ohio Farm Bureau members.
Riding for Recreation? Respect the Outdoors, Others and Landowners
According to the All-Terrain Vehicle Safety Institute (ASI), a not-for-profit division of the Specialty Vehicle Institute of America (SVIA), to keep riding areas open requires good relationships between public land managers, private land owners and others who share the land such as riders, campers and hikers. In most cases common courtesy and consideration of their interests is all that is necessary to ensure that everyone can enjoy the area. Here are a few tips to consider when you ride:
- Learn about the area you will ride in. Contact the public land manager or private property owner to ensure that you understand area restrictions and have permission to ride there. Get maps of the area, and stay on trails if they are provided.
- Keep your ATV quiet. ATVs are designed to be relatively quiet while still delivering maximum performance, smooth engine torque and spark suppression. Excessive noise stresses wildlife, and annoys property owners and other recreation users. It also contributes to your own riding fatigue. Less noise means you can ride farther more comfortably.
- Obey trail markers and closure signs. There are many reasons why an area may be closed to ATVs including the existence of fire hazard, refuge to wildlife or plant life and safety hazards for ATV riders. The reasons may not be obvious. If it is posted as closed, stay out.
- Always leave gates and fences the way you found them. This is especially important on private lands where livestock may be kept.
- Leave the area as clean as you found it. If you see litter, pick it up and carry it out on your ATV. Carry a rolled up plastic trash bag and a couple of bungee cords on your ATV. Why not leave the area cleaner than you found it?
- Be courteous to others you may meet on the trail. Always give right-of-way to hikers and horseback riders. Pull off the trail and stop your engine for horses. In most areas, horses are not permitted on trails unless they are accustomed to vehicles, but don’t take a chance. The rider will likely talk soothingly to the horse. It doesn’t hurt for you to do the same to assure the horse you are no threat. Horses respond very positively to a calm, human voice.
- Approach livestock or wildlife on the trail slowly. In some parts of the country, range cattle pass the afternoon under shade trees along a trail. If you startle them, they may run directly into your path. Give them time to react and give them as wide a berth as possible.
- Whenever you talk to a landowner, take your helmet off. The helmet can make you appear to be intimidating and unfriendly. Be friendly and honest in all your discussions with the landowner and remember you are there as their guest.