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Fun on Four Wheels

Like most individuals, I enjoy spending time outside with the occasional ride on an All-Terrain Vehicle (ATV). With the warm weather we have had, I have been itching to get a chance to ride around the pasture and look at the new calves. However, it is important that when I find time to do that, I remember to follow some simple safety precautions.

To anyone just getting an ATV, it is important to realize that they come in different sizes and that you must fit the ATV to the rider’s size. Manufacturer’s guidelines suggest that no rider under the age of 16 operate an ATV with an engine larger than 90CC.  Even if the rider is older than 16, they may not have the skills, strength, or maturity to operate that size of an ATV, making it important that you assess your situation individually to ensure you get the proper size for the rider.

All ATV riders need to have the maturity to understand what safety equipment they should wear. The first priority for all riders should be to wear a properly fitted ATV helmet. There are helmets on the market that are made special for ATV riders because they have the proper amount of face protection and have the ability to absorb energy on impact. Bicycling, skateboarding, and rollerblading helmets are not acceptable safety equipment for ATV riders. In addition to having a helmet on, the rider should wear some form of eye protection. The eye protection may be attached to the helmet or may need to be purchased separately. If it is not attached, an ANSI-approved pair of goggles or glasses with hard-coated polycarbonate lenses should be purchased. Other safety equipment that needs to be worn is gloves, boots, long pants, and a long sleeved shirt. 

Not all safety precautions associated with ATVs are associated with equipment. For instance, all riders should understand and accept the fact that it is not safe to carry a passenger.  All-Terrain vehicles are equipped with a single seat and when carrying a passenger, it prevents the driver from being able to shift their weight correctly when making turns. Additionally there is nothing on the ATV for the passenger to hold onto to prevent them from being thrown off the ATV. 

All-Terrain Vehicle are not designed to operate on paved surface such as a public road because they can be hard to control. Likewise, going over jumps, climbing or going down steep inclines, driving through high water, and making sharp turns at high speeds are all maneuvers that are unsafe in ATVs and increase your likelihood of getting injured. Whether or not all ATV riders understand and follow the above suggestions, it is still a good idea for all riders to be supervised because both youth and adults can fall victim to an ATV accident.

As always, if you have any questions or would like information on any agriculture, horticulture, or natural resource topic, then please contact your local Purdue Extension Office at 448-9041 in Clay Co. or 829-5020 in Owen Co. or reach me directly at smith535@purdue.edu. Purdue University is an equal opportunity/equal access/affirmative action institution.

Upcoming opportunities available to you through Purdue Extension include:
April 20—Gardening for All Ages, 9am-4pm, Hendricks Co. Fairgrounds
April 20—9th Annual Indiana Dairy Youth Conference, Hendricks Co Fairgrounds, $11, Call
                 574-372-2340 to register
 April 25 – Area V Pond Management Workshop, Fowler Park, Terre Haute, IN, 5:30-7:30 pm