Summertime's here again, and with it comes time to gather up the family for days of riding in the hills and courses. It's great fun being out in the open on an ATV--wind blowing, sun shining, dirt flying--and we want our kids to learn to love the experience as well. But as we all know, off roading an ATV (and even riding on-road) can be dangerous, so here are eight tips to keep kids and other new riders safe :
While there are no federal regulations rider's age, each state does have it's own laws. Some states like Kentucky prohibit people under 16 from riding without supervision, some states like Iowa prohibit people under 12 riding on public land, and numerous states require all riders to have a safety certificate. Be sure to check the regulations in your state, or any state you may be traveling to as they're often different.
Whether the state requires it or not, it's wise to have your children attend an ATV safety course before operating the vehicle. Safety courses provide hands-on training from professional instructors to ensure they learn rider basics, safety precautions, pre-ride checkups and how to handle emergency conditions. Check the ATV Safety Institute for courses in your local area.
Make sure the rider has a properly fitted helmet--this is the most important. In addition, get some eye protection like goggles or safety glasses. Make sure to wear long sleeves and pants, as well as gloves. Any exposed skin is at risk for damage if there is an accident or they ride in tall brush or near tree branches.
Just like riding a bicycle, the size of the ATV needs to be appropriate to the rider. A younger kid riding Dad's high-powered ATV is going to have problems reaching the handlebars and controlling it. Check with your dealer if you are unable to locate the factory age sticker on the ATV.
Young riders do not have the skills or experience yet to safely drive with another passenger. Only allow kids to ride solo, or with an experienced adult as the driver. It's not only safer, but several states have laws and regulations against kids driving other passengers.
A night ride is a lot of fun for an experienced rider, but kids lack the coordination and skill to do this safely. It's best to park the ATVs before sundown. Additionally, stick to trails meant for off road-vehicles. Public roads are much too busy (and illegal to ride in some states) and paved surfaces can be slick. Only use them to cross to another trail, if necessary.
Make sure that young kids and inexperienced riders are always monitored. If something does happen, you or another responsible adult will be there to help. Make sure to have a first-aid kit for minor injuries, and a means of calling for help easily if something more serious happens. Check the cell service in the areas before you ride to ensure it's strong enough to get a call out if necessary.
When loading an ATV onto a trailer for transport, use tie-down ratchet or cam buckle straps, have a spotter to guide the operator, and be aware of the angle the ATV is being loaded at. If the angle is too steep, the operator could lose control, or roll.
ATVs can be great fun for the entire family, so long as everyone is safe and riding at their abilities. Follow these five tips to ensure everyone is safe and having a blast!
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