ATV riding season is here!
Whether you're getting the 'ole quad ready for the weekend or thinking about joining this most popular sport, keep in mind that ATV riding, while fun, can be dangerous. It can be easy to think of riding an ATV as little more than driving a car. It's not.
If you're new to quad riding knowing universally accepted safety tips is invaluable to keeping you on four wheels and welcomed by other riders. Now, if you're a veteran of the trail, little is more valuable than a refresher course in common sense quad riding.
We've put together 10 Quick Safety Tips for ATV Trail Riding as a way to remind and educate you when you're blazing around on your quad. Some are obvious and straightforward. Others you might think, that's bendable, but somewhere at some time it took an accident for common sense to prevail.
- Wear Gear
Always wear safety gear. Helmets, goggles, boots, gloves - the works. There are no seatbelts on an ATV and flipping over is a lot easier than you might think. Be prepared and go home intact.
Do a pre-ride inspection every time. Check the tires for wear and rims for damage. Look over your controls and make sure connections and cables are intact. Check the chain for worn links and sprockets for broken teeth and ensure there's enough lubrication.
- Don't Ride Alone
Participating in any sport or activity where accidents can and do happen, it's never a good idea to do it alone. Always have a riding buddy and better - have two. Running out of gas, getting lost or crashing is never any fun but it's worse and can be life threatening if you're alone. Besides, who wants to ride by themselves? Grab some friends and make a day of it.
- No Drinking and Riding
Duh. It's not safe in a car and it's not safe on an ATV. It's no secret - alcohol and drugs impair your judgment and your ability to ride safely. Don't put yourself in jeopardy and don't put others at risk for your risky behavior. Leave the beers for the evening when the gear is packed away.
- Tired? Stop Riding
ATV riding is actually a great way to exercise. It demands strength and mental acuity. Overtime however, those bumps, jumps and tight corners wear down even the strongest dudes. If you can feel fatigue setting in, stop riding and take a break. Even if you don't feel tired, if you've been riding all day, take a break, rehydrate and fuel up with some lunch.
- One Rider Only
Don't be a goon. Unless you're riding an ATV equipped for two-people, in which case you're probably on a UTV and not screaming through trails, only one person on a quad at any time. No piggy-backing or side riding.
- Ride on Designated Trails
Don't ride your ATV anywhere but a designated riding area. Not only is this for the safety of others and prevents unnecessary wear and tear to your machine, but it's also being a good steward of the sport. Ride where it's legal.
- Ride the Right ATV
What's the right ATV? As a general rule, only 90cc and larger engines for those 16 years and older. Don't pop your 10 year old on a 250cc ATV.
- Be Aware
Know your surroundings. Since you've taken Tip #3 to heart, know where your riding partners are. Look ahead just like driving a car so you can see what's coming. Bumps are fun but when you hit one unexpectedly you can get bounced right off your ride. Look out for critters jumping out in front of your riding path and be cognizant of other riding parties.
- No Goon Riding
Probably one of the top reason riders get hurt. Whether it's showing off, trying to see what their quad can do or just plain stupidity, don't ride beyond your ability or perform stunts and tricks you have no business doing.
The tips above are obvious and obvious for a reason. Most, if not all, are practically unwritten rules in ATV world. Safety is always a priority and most rules factor in safety for you and others. Also, it's a good idea to keep in mind the "house rules" when riding a track or designated ATV trails and knowing state rules like spark arrestors.