Are ATVs dangerous?
If you are considering purchasing an ATV, you are probably on the fence as you don’t know for sure whether or not ATVs are safe. The answer to this question is rather tricky. Just like any vehicles of this type, riders can get into accidents easily if they do not follow the rules.
Because, unlike a car, an ATV cannot supply riders with the same level of protection, the injuries that one can sustain in case of an accident are more dangerous and, in some cases, they can scar one for life.
According to a recent study, annually, around 136,000 people end up in the emergency room and 700 riders die of ATV related injuries. Most of the accidents occur in the warmer months of the year, especially during the summer.
However, when ridden responsibly, these vehicles are fun and safe. To avoid the risks of serious injuries, it is also vital that all riders wear protective gear.
According to researchers, ATVs are more dangerous than motorcycles because they have a higher center of gravity. When ridden on uneven terrains, the risk of an accident increases even more, especially if the rider has no training.
What not to do
One thing that you should remember when riding an ATV is that a vehicle of this kind was specially built to be used on off-road terrains. Even though it might seem hard to believe, these vehicles are less safe when ridden on paved roads.
The main issue with paved roads is that ATVs are difficult to control. Riders often face the risk of being hit by cars and overturning.
If you are under 16 and you intend to ride an ATV that was specifically created to be used by adults, you also risk getting into accidents. To avoid this, it is best that you opt for a vehicle that was constructed to be used by youths. These options come provided with a speed limit and, therefore, are considered much safer. Before you invest in a model, take the time to check out the recommended age for the specific model that you like.
Another issue that causes accidents is overloading. ATVs should not be ridden by two people at the same time. So, next time you decide to ride with a friend, you should reconsider your choice. When a vehicle is overloaded, the rider will most likely find it more difficult to control the ATV. This tip does not count if you own a 2-seat model.
One of the leading causes of ATV injuries is drunk driving. This happens because most owners operate their vehicles on private pieces of land and because they ignore the rules set in place by the experts.
If you have not had formal ATV training, you should not take your new acquisition for a ride. Without training, you will have no idea how to correctly control the vehicle or how to act in various circumstances. It goes without saying that this is also true in the case of the other people that ask to use your ATV.
Currently, adults are not required to have an ATV license in order to use a vehicle of this kind. However, all riders under 16 are, in some states, not allowed to ride an ATV without a certification. Besides, ATV riding is only permitted on special, designated areas. Therefore, you cannot use your ATV on state forest roads, state game lands or in parks.
There are some states where ATVs can be used on roads. To do so, users have to equip their vehicles with horns, mirrors, blinkers and a license plate. Doing so also means that you have to register the vehicle.
To avoid getting injured while riding an ATV, it is important that you wear protective gear. To cater to the needs of their customers, numerous manufacturers have created special helmets and gloves that one can use.
The helmet that you select has to be made of durable materials and it has to be at least DOT certified. A protective face screen or additional goggles should also be purchased for increased safety.
If you value comfort, it might be a good idea to select a model that is well ventilated and that comes with a removable liner that can be washed in between uses. The helmet that you acquire should fit you correctly, it should be lightweight and it should not interfere with your vision in any way.
When riding off-road, you should also use protective goggles that can keep the mud, debris, and dust out of your eyes. Most of the available helmets allow users to wear goggles as well. However, before you make a purchase, you should check for compatibility.
Gym shoes are not suitable when riding an ATV. Investing in high-quality boots is important, as you need to use your feet to distribute your weight correctly when jumping or taking turns.
The boots that you use should supply you with the needed support and they should be high enough so that your legs won’t get burns from the exhaust.
Some seasoned riders also recommend that one uses motocross style boots, while others argue that quad style boots are better because of their rugged design and treaded soles. At the end of the day, the rider is the one that has to make a decision, based on his/her preferences.
If you enjoy heavy trail rides at high speeds, a chest protector is a must. There a numerous model currently available. Some of them include extra features, while others come provided with basic ones.
The biggest advantage of a chest protector is that it can also be worn under a jacket or regular clothes. So, it won’t interfere with your overall look. Even though a piece of equipment of this sort is not a must, at the end of the day, it is better to be safe than sorry.
All seasoned ATV riders swear by neck braces. A brace of this kind can help you avoid a neck and back injury in case of an impact. Usually, neck braces sit on the rider’s spine and sternum and they work by transferring the impact forces to the larger muscle groups.
How to minimize the danger
Most ATV accidents happen when the vehicles are ridden at high speeds. Therefore, if you are a novice that values safety, you should slow down and learn how to use the vehicle properly. It might also help to install a quad that includes a throttle limiter.
Plus, it is also advisable that you install nerf bars on your ATV. These bars cover and protect your feet in case they happen to slip from the quad. These bars are also very much practical when racing as they prevent other riders to bump into your tires.
Most people often invest in ATVs that do not suit the shape of their bodies. As a result, they end up riding in vehicles that are either too small or too big for their legs and arms. Because of this, they have trouble controlling their ATVs properly and they lack basic comfort.
Another golden rule that you have to remember is that you should never ride alone. This does not mean that you should overcrowd the ATV by piggy-backing. Instead of going on a ride alone, make sure that you have a friend that is also an ATV rider with you. This way, he/she can help you in case you run out of fuel or if you get into a life-threatening crash.
Before any ride, you should do a short inspection of the ATV by looking for wear on the tires and any other signs that might indicate that something might malfunction.
What is more, it is advisable that you only ride on designated trails. If you decide to go off the beaten tracks, your chances of crashing or rolling increase. Also, your friends might not be able to locate you as easily in case you get into an accident.
As much as you want to show off your skills to your friends, in most cases, this is the type of behavior that will get you injured. So, you shouldn’t try any tricks that are beyond your ability.