Top 10 Safety Tips for Riding ATVs and UTVs
ATVs. UTVs. Gotta love ‘em. Off-roading is an exhilarating activity if you are looking to get outdoors. But, whether you’re an experienced rider or it’s your first time on a quad, going off-road always has its risks. These machines are powerful and although they are a ton of fun, they can be dangerous without a proper understanding of how to use them. A quick review of what it means to ride safely is important for experienced and new riders alike. So, with adventure calling, here are ten safety tips that are important to keep in mind before you take off.
Check the condition of your vehicle
Start with the technical items and see how your vehicle is running. Check any gauges and see if the fuel, oil, brakes, and tire pressure are all within their normal range and are ready for your outing. ATVs and UTVs are off-road vehicles and they ride rough, so a standard run-through before you head out is a must. Check for loose nuts and bolts, look at the suspension, and inspect the overall condition of the machine to make sure everything is secure and ready to go. And of course, start your unit to make sure that the battery is ready to go before you haul it all the way to your riding destination.
Pick the right terrain for your level of experience
Always pick a terrain that’s within your skill level. Off-roading can be serious business. If you plan on going deep into the woods, or even out into the open spaces, do some research and understand the difficulty level of where you are planning to go. If you are still a beginner, stick to the groomed trails first! And if you’re renting a unit, ask for some tips from the more experienced on the best places for your skill level. Heading out on a trail that is not suitable for you is not fun. Trust us.
Make sure you are riding in style – and by style we mean the right gear. Make sure you have a helmet with the proper safety rating, a good pair of gloves, and a pair of goggles for eye and wind protection. Having clothes-toed shoes and long-sleeves helps make for a more comfortable day out while also protecting you from minor scrapes if you’re riding in an area dense in foliage.
Avoid riding alone
No matter how prepared you are, it’s still important to understand that things out of your control can still happen. A fall, engine malfunction, running out of fuel, even getting lost or off-trail, are all real possibilities, so riding with at least one other person can help reduce the chances of more serious situations. If there is an equipment breakdown, another person with their own unit can help tow you out, share their ride with you, or help assist you out of a tight spot. All in all, always try to go with a few people when riding for a safer outing, it’s more fun to go with others anyways!
Avoid public roads
ATVs and UTVs are meant for offroading. Depending on state laws, these vehicles might not be street legal so checking with the state laws in which you are planning to ride is important before heading out. If they are not street legal where you are going, make sure you are looking for the appropriate trails for your ATV or UTV.
Stay on the trails
Stick to the trails! Trails are marked for a reason; to help you find your way through the established and designated routes through the beautiful outdoors. Not only is it dangerous to go off course, but it causes further damage to untouched land that isn’t meant for your wheels. By staying on the designated trails, you are getting to enjoy the paths that were made for you, while leaving the outdoors clean and intact for others to enjoy.
Follow your vehicle’s passenger limit
Although having someone with you is important when you are riding, you should always follow your vehicle’s passenger limit. ATVs and UTVs have guidelines on how many passengers they can accommodate. These guidelines make sure you aren’t putting unnecessary strain on your vehicle. ATVs are usually built for one or two riders, while side by sides are there when you need a spot for two to four people, depending on the model. If you’re not ready to have a passenger just yet, make sure they rent their own unit.
The vehicle also chooses the rider!
Some things just feel right. Choosing the right unit that you are comfortable with is important. Just like people, ATVs and UTVs come in all different shapes and sizes, from steering, seating, height, and overall control, all these things matter for a better riding experience. Try a few different models, take a few laps, and take note of the units that work best for you!
Keep yourself inside the vehicle at all times
Another VERY important aspect of riding in a UTV is that you should always keep your arms and legs inside the UTV frame at all times. The heavily tractioned tires can send rocks flying everywhere, meaning outstretched arms can get injured. Even more important, is that if a UTV were to roll, having your arms outside the frame of the vehicle can lead to much more serious injuries.
With or without seat belts?
ATVs and UTVs are different in this regard. UTVs have a protective cage that’ll keep you safe in case you roll or crash, so it’s important to fasten your seatbelts in order to safely stay protected inside the cage. On the other hand, ATVs are rider active and don’t have a seatbelt. Being able to shift your weight during the ride is essential to run it properly, and in case you do get in an accident it becomes much easier for you to bail from the machine. Knowing what to do in whatever vehicle you are in case of an accident is very important.
Bumpy roads, loose gravel, mud puddles, forest trails, and scenic views… going off-road takes you to exciting and beautiful places. So, doing it the safe way is doing it the right way! Excited to start exploring the trails yourself? Visit DayTrail today to find UTV and ATV rental listings near you!