Always Wear the Safety Gear: Learn the Golden Rules for ATVs and UTVs

By: Jana L. Davidson, Education Content Specialist for the Progressive Agriculture Foundation

Parents are always looking for outdoor, recreational, and fun opportunities for their children that are enjoyable, hands-on, and above all safe. With nice weather now upon us, your child may be anxious to ride their ATV (All-Terrain Vehicle) or UTV (Utility Task Vehicle). In addition to being fun, an ATV can teach children responsibility while helping with farm or ranch chores. However, you may be wondering what gear they should wear when they hit the trail? Unsure if the ATV or UTV is both age and size appropriate? Does your child know how to operate the ATV and maneuver up and down hills correctly? Being able to answer these questions before they turn the key and start the engine is an important component in your child’s safety and well-being while riding.

According to the 2020 Fact Sheet from the National Children’s Center for Rural and Agricultural Health and Safety (NCCRAHS), transportation incidents (including tractors, ATVs, and UTVs) are among the most fatal for youth in agriculture. What is the most heartbreaking of all, with these statistics, is the fact that many of these incidents could have been prevented. Many incidents are due to driver or operator error and likely caused from a change in the center of gravity. This can occur when you add additional weight to an ATV in the form of an extra rider, a sprayer tank, hay bales, or even a deer carcass during hunting season.

16-130_ATVSafety_688In 2019, ATV safety reached more than 46,000 youth participants and was one of the top lessons taught at Progressive Agriculture Safety Days. Now, thanks to a collaboration with our 4-star partners at Polaris, additional ATV and UTV resources will assist us in teaching this important topic to even more youth at our Progressive Agriculture Safety Days, various farm shows, and other events.

June 5-14, 2020 is ATV Safety Week. So, what are the most important tips to keep in mind when riding an ATV or UTV? Here are the ATV Safety Institute’s 8 Golden Rules:

  1. Always wear a Department of Transportation (DOT) compliant helmet, goggles, long sleeves, long pants, over-the-ankle boots, and gloves. Selection of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) plays a crucial role in your safety from your head to your toes. The safer you will be when you select the appropriate PPE!
  2. Never ride on paved roads except to cross when done safely and permitted by law, as another vehicle could hit you. ATVs are designed to be operated off-highway.
  3. Never ride under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Also, never allow others who appear to be under the influence to operate an ATV or UTV.
  4. Never carry a passenger on a single-rider ATV, and no more than one passenger on an ATV specifically designed for two people. Most ATVs are designed for one rider at a time, so you can be rider active and move with the vehicle. When going down an incline (shift to the back), when going up an incline (shift to the front) or when turning (shift left or right).
  5. Ride an ATV that is right for your age and also size appropriate. Although all youth vehicles are designed for children to travel at slower speeds, every child differs in his or her physical and developmental abilities, which needs to be considered when handling an ATV.
  6. Supervise riders younger than 16. Always remind younger riders that ATVs are not toys.
  7. Ride only on designated trails and at a safe speed.
  8. Become safety savvy by taking a hands-on ATV RiderCourse and the free online E-Course. Visit or call 800-887-2887 to learn more.

Since 1995, the Progressive Agriculture Safety Day program has also been on a mission to provide the education, training, and resources to make farm, ranch and rural life safer and healthier for children and their communities. For more information on Progressive Agriculture Safety Days or to locate an event near you, visit or call 888-257-3529 (please note, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many events planned for the spring and summer have postponed or cancelled for 2020). Looking to make a safe investment? Help send another child to a Progressive Agriculture Safety Day by texting the word “SAFETYDAY” to 44321 or visit

Photo 1: At a Progressive Agriculture Safety Day held in Ord, Nebraska, participants get a chance to get an up-close look at an all-terrain vehicle and learn the importance of ATV safety.


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