ATV safety

Summer months mean that youth and adults are out and about finding fun things to do. One of those fun things to do in the summer is to drive or ride on all-terrain vehicle (ATV’s). It is important to keep yourself and youth safe while operating an ATV.

ATV’s are three-and four-wheeled vehicles with large, low pressure tires that allow the vehicle to be used on dirt trails. Michigan has a great trail system that allows families to explore the outdoors.

In Michigan it has been reported that from 2008 to 2011 there has been 72 deaths due to ATV accidents.

Let’s review what the Michigan State Laws say about riding an ATV:

  • All riders (operator and passengers) must wear a helmet and eye protection at all times.
  • All ATVs must be titled.
  • All ATVs must be registered unless used solely on an operator’s private land; renewal is once every year.
  • Children under 16 years old must have a safety training certificate and be under the direct visual supervision of an adult.
  • No one under 16 years old may operate a three-wheeled ATV.
  • No one under 10 years old may operate an ATV except while performing farm work.
  • No one under 12 years old may cross a highway or street on an ATV.
  • No passengers are allowed on the ATV unless it is designed to carry more than one person.
  • ATV use on highways is prohibited, except to cross these roads, but operators are permitted to drive on highway shoulders.
  • No ATV shall be operated without a lighted headlight and taillight from 1/2 hour after sunset to 1/2 hour before sunrise.

Other safety areas Michigan State University Extension suggests considering when on an ATV are:

  • Always wear helmet and protective gear.
  • Fit you ATV according to age and size! Follow the manufacturer’s recommendation guidelines.  Youth under age 16 should not operate or ride adult size machines.
  • Use good judgment when operating or riding an ATV.
  • Operate and ride singly, never with passengers.
  • Stay in control of the vehicle.
  • Scout new terrain before operating or riding.

National 4-H has a 4-H ATV Safety Curriculum that can be purchased and used when working with youth. If you are interested in learning more about ATV Safety or starting a 4-H club around ATV’s, contact your local MSU Extension Office.

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