In case you are the proud owner of a new four wheeler, but you are not sure whether you need to purchase one of those good off-road ATV helmets as well or not, this article is here to shed some light on the matter. First of all, it’s important to know that most of these vehicles, particularly ATVs, are used for recreational purposes.
This means that some of their users don’t consider helmets to be a necessary item, but the truth is that these protective items are crucial. In most states, older kids and teens are legally allowed to ride motorized four wheelers, even if they don’t have a driver’s license. However, this doesn’t mean that the rider should neglect the importance of remaining safe at all times and in all conditions.
ATVs and other similar vehicles can sometimes be hard to control and rather unstable, especially if driven at high speeds. Collisions and rollovers can take place, and they actually do happen quite often. The bad part is that, without the appropriate safety equipment, these can be fatal.
Let’s take a closer look at ATVs
These popular motorized units are meant to be mostly used on dirt roads and other similar off-road conditions. That’s why you’ll rarely see them ridden on highways (which is also illegal in some states) or paved roads.
Although they might look like toys, especially to those who are used to driving cars or trucks, it’s good to know that the average weight of an ATV stands at 600 lbs. Manufacturers have also added powerful engines for thrilling outdoor adventures, and they can often reach speeds of 65 mph or even more.
However, since their center of gravity is high and they usually don’t feature safety cages, seatbelts, or roll bars, they can tip over quite easily and riders are exposed to injury. That’s why, even if they are a lot of fun, you should make sure that whoever is riding such a vehicle is aware of the implications and the risks as well.
In case of an accident, four-wheeler riders can deal with broken arms and legs, cuts, scrapes, and these are only the light alternatives. That’s why wearing the right helmet at all times is crucial.
Who can ride them?
ATVs are not subject to federal regulations and age limits, so it falls into the responsibilities of each state to draw the laws that govern this area. These are different from state to state, and some of them require riders to be 16 years old or over.
On the other hand, in other states, kids aged 10 can ride an ATV, as long as they are under the supervision of an adult with a driver’s license. If we are to take a look at expert recommendations, teens and children under 16 should not be riding these vehicles since they might not have enough physical strength to handle them correctly and safely.
Riding conditions can rapidly change and they are unpredictable, therefore operating an ATV requires making quick decisions. Whether we’re talking about slowing down, speeding up, or simply shifting the body’s weight to respond to changes in the terrain, a kid is usually unable to make such decisions on the spot or have the necessary skills and strength to carry them out.
Some safety guidelines
Even though this article’s main question refers to helmets, safety is a complex matter which needs to be regarded from all perspectives, so we’ll take a look at some general guidelines that should be kept in mind. Experienced riders know all too well that anyone using a four-wheeler should wear a helmet at any given point.
Children and teens under 16 should not ride ATVs, especially without adult supervision since these units can quickly become uncontrollable. For those who are ready to experience the thrills of a new ATV, especially if they are not experienced, it’s a good idea to take a safety training course.
This way, the rider can quickly learn how to operate the unit and also get a pretty good idea on what four-wheeler he or she can safely operate, based on age and experience. Wearing full head protection is crucial, and many states require riders to protect their heads and eyes by law.
Plus, protective apparel that includes long sleeves, long pants, over-the-ankle boots, as well as gloves is the right choice.
A bit about helmets
We’ve already mentioned that wearing a helmet is extremely important, but in order for you to better understand the reasons behind it, we’ll use the next lines to take a look at what these protective items can offer.
The first and most important benefit a helmet can bring is that it can save your life. Unfortunately, many accidents can take place when riding a four-wheeler and statistics show that many lives could have been saved if those involved in accidents would have had helmets on.
Besides keeping you safe, a helmet also ensures comfort during rides. You should always choose a high-quality and standard-approved model to be protected all around. Flying insects, wind fatigue, or dangers for your eyes are all part of the experience. Excellent eye protection allows you to clearly see your surroundings at any given point.
Moreover, a good helmet also cuts down wind and ambient noises, thus allowing you to be able to focus on other more important sounds. Depending on the model you choose and on whether you like bright colors, you can also be easily spotted by the other riders, which can mean added safety.
Types of helmets
There are various types of helmets you can choose from, the main ones being full-face, open-face, or off-road models. If you go for the full-face alternative, then you’ll enjoy added protection, since they usually feature built-in face shields.
On the other hand, some riders prefer having a bit more space to move around, so if that’s your case as well, an open-face helmet might be the right choice. These are less constrictive, but you should know that they provide less overall protection and don’t cover the mouth and chin area.
Off-road helmets are recommended for ATV riders who use their vehicles very often, since these cover most of the face and also feature a solid piece of molding that protects the jaw and the chin. Compared to full-face helmets, off-road ones ensure more ventilation and come with a flip-up visor that also acts as a face shield.
Other useful information
We’ve already mentioned the importance of wearing a helmet, but you should also know that certain safety standards should be met by the model that you choose, in order to be sure you can rely on it. While these don’t necessarily fall into the legal category, you might want to research the topic a bit and see what you need, based on your riding style.
You can also go to a local shop and talk to someone experienced in order to better understand the various safety features that you can benefit from. Also, since the helmet is the single most important part of your safety equipment, you shouldn’t go for a cheaper alternative. After all, you cannot and shouldn’t put a price tag on your safety and on your health.
In terms of state laws, you need to check with the local authorities and see what the exact requirements are in order to safely and legally ride a four wheeler, especially if you intend to do this on public roads. You might need to invest a bit of extra cash into getting your ATV ready for the road, but the fine costs a lot more, so it surely is a good idea to avoid it.
After you’ve purchased a new helmet, you need to store correctly, to make sure that it remains effective for a longer period. Avoid placing it near paint, gasoline, or cleaning products, since the fumes can react with the materials and cause damage. The same goes for heating sources that might deform it.