Stay Safe on the Trails with These ATV Riding Tips
Safety is the number one priority when it comes to driving a vehicle. And ATVs are no exception.
Many drivers get into accidents when they don’t follow standard safety precautions.
So whether you’re a beginner or an expert rider, follow these safety tips to prevent accidents and injuries, and to keep enjoying your Honda ATV.
What Qualifies as an ATV?
An All-Terrain Vehicle (ATV):
- Is an Off-Road Vehicle (ORV);
- Has four wheels;
- Has low-pressure tires;
- Has steering handlebars;
- Is designed to carry one driver and no passengers;
- Has a seat designed for the driver to straddle; and,
- Meets the requirements of the Ontario Regulation of the Highway Traffic Act, the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Act, and the American National Standards Institute.
Are There Courses for Me to Take?
The Canada Safety Council offers ATV rider training courses to teach you how to drive your ATV safely. Part of the ATV safety course is online, while hands-on training is provided in person with a certified instructor.
This training is an essential part of safe ATV riding. You will learn how to control your vehicle in various conditions, including emergency situations.
What are the Driver Requirements?
All ATV drivers must wear helmets that meet the Highway Traffic Act.
Riders under the age of 12 are not allowed to ride ATVs unless on their own property or trails supervised by adults.
If crossing a road on an ATV, riders must have a valid G2/G driver’s licence or an M2/M motorcycle licence.
What Gear Should I Be Wearing?
Always wear protective gear while riding your ATV. Since there are no seatbelts, you must take extra precautions to protect your head and body from an accident.
The safety gear you should wear includes:
- An ATV helmet (or other motorsports helmet) that meets the standards of the Highway Traffic Act;
- Snug-fitting goggles to protect your eyes from bugs, branches, dirt, dust, rocks, and other debris;
- Over-the-ankle boots to protect your feet and ankles. These boots also need nubby soles for better grip in muddy conditions;
- Protective clothing, including pants and long-sleeve shirts to protect your arms and legs from scratches and injuries; and,
- Gloves with palm padding to help you grip your handles while protecting your hands from calluses, muscles cramps, sore joints, and thumb fatigue.
Important Tips for Beginners and Mistakes to Avoid
Ride the Right ATV
ATVs come in different sizes and with various engines, so you should ride one that is best suited to your height, weight, and skill level.
Beginners should ride ATVs with lower-powered engines for added safety. Children should never ride ATVs meant for adults, or ride without adult supervision. And children under the age of 6 should not ride ATVs at all.
Always Wear Safety Gear
As mentioned before, safety gear is the only thing protecting your head, body, and skin from injuries. So stay protected. And for extra protection, consider wearing a chest protector, knee brace, and a neck brace.
Inspect Before Riding
You should inspect your ATV before each ride. This includes checking the:
- Tires for signs of wear and tear, and air pressure. The air pressure should meet the manufacturer’s recommendations;
- Rims for signs of damage;
- Controls, cables, and connections to ensure they’re intact;
- Chains for worn links, sprockets for broken teeth, and to see if there’s enough lubrication;
- Handlebars by moving them side to side to see if there are problems with mobility and steering; and,
- Fuel and fluids—the gas, oil, brake fluids, and coolant should all be full before going for a ride.
Never Ride Alone
Always bring a friend or two along for the ride for safety and help in case you get into an accident or run out of gas.
Don’t Let Your Feet Hang
Always keep your feet on the foot pegs. Or, for better riding, install nerf bars. If you let your feet hang to the side, your feet will be at risk of getting caught in the back tires.
Do Not Attempt Wheelies
No rider should stunt ride, regardless of skill level. But beginners should absolutely avoid even the smallest stunts.
A wheelie will likely put you flat on your back with your quad landing on top of you. And so will pressing too hard on the throttle, or riding up a ramp into the back of a truck.
Practice, Practice, Practice!
Practice pressing the throttle slowly, steering, using the clutch, shifting, and using the brakes.
Always keep your fingers near the brake and clutch levers. And practice standing up when riding, hovering just above the seat with your elbows out and knees bent. Don’t lock your elbows.
Safety Tips for All Levels
Do Not Drink & Ride
This may seem like an obvious one, but it’s one of the most important safety tips you must observe at all times. You cannot be under the influence of alcohol or drugs while operating an ATV. Alcohol and drugs put you and others at risk of injury or death.
Read the Owner’s Manual
Read your owner’s manual before operating your ATV and follow safe operating procedures.
Be Aware of Your Surroundings
Just like driving a car, stay alert and look ahead to see what’s coming. Keep an eye out for big bumps and wildlife on the trails. Also be aware of your surroundings and the location of your riding partners.
Stop Riding When Tired
Riding can use up a lot of energy. So if you start feeling tired, or you’ve been riding for a while, take a break to hydrate and eat some food. Your mind will be more alert, and your body will be in better shape to ride when you’ve replenished your energy.
Maintain a Reasonable Speed
Use the appropriate and safe speed based on your experience and the terrain, visibility, and conditions.
Do Not Ride with Passengers
Unless you are riding on a UTV meant for two people, do not ride with a passenger as it will increase the risk of accidents and rolling over.
Only Ride on Legal Trails
For your safety, the safety others, and the protection of your ATV, only ride on designated trails.
Goon Riding is for Goons
Goon riding refers to performing stunts and tricks on ATVs and is one of the leading causes of accidents and injuries. So stay safe and don’t try to show off.
Can’t See? Don’t Ride
Whether its fog, dusk, or nighttime, poor visibility increases your risk of accident while riding an ATV. So stick to riding during the day when it’s clear out.
Steer Clear of Paved Roads
ATVs are designed for off-road use, so you shouldn’t drive your ATV on paved roads unless you must cross a road to continue on a trail. You can increase your chance of an accident, such as a collision or overturning your vehicle, on paved roads.
Insurance is a Must-Have
You should get insurance to protect yourself and your ATV in the event of theft or an accident. Insurance could cover repair costs for your ATV and other damages for you and other riders involved.
Keep these ATV safety facts and riding tips in mind to make the most of your rides. You can’t enjoy your Honda ATV if you’re injured, so prevent injuries altogether by riding safely.