Riding ATVs is an awesome way to spend the summer — as long as you take the right safety precautions, that is. Otherwise, piloting these powerful off-road vehicles could take a turn for the worse, resulting in serious injuries to riders, passengers, and even nearby onlookers. Thankfully, it is easy to stay safe on ATVs by following these guidelines in piloting them both on and off-road.
Sign Up for a Hands-On Rider Course
Whether you plan to ride a side-by-side ATV or basic single-rider model, you can benefit from taking a hands-on course. These courses train you how to accelerate, stop, and manoeuvre around obstacles without impacting the stability of the vehicle. You will also learn how to properly bring a passenger along with you while preserving their safety as well.
If you plan to take the ATV onto permitted roads, you will need to hold a valid G2/M2 license. Taking a hands-on rider course will help improve your chances of passing the practical tests required for that level of licensing. Whatever your motivations, you can find rider courses in your neck of the woods by visiting the Canada Safety Council’s website.
Get the Right Protective Gear
Whether you will take your ATV on public roads or stay off-road, you must always wear the proper amount of gear. You can borrow motorcyclists ATGATT, or all the gear all the time, mantra to stay safe on your adventures.
To follow the ATGATT way of life, you should always wear a:
- Long pants
- Protective jacket
- Riding boots
- Heavy-duty gloves
Make sure to have your passengers wear all the same gear as well.
Understand Off-Road and On-Road Rules
The rules for off-road and on-road ATV riding differ slightly all across Canada. For those driving off-road only, it is important to remember that all drivers must be 12 years or older unless directly supervised by an attentive adult. Until they reach age 16, riders cannot even think about crossing a public roadway. Even while just off-road, all riders must wear a helmet at the very least. Furthermore, you must register your ATV and attach the provided license plate to the back. You also need to carry insurance through your motor vehicle policy and a copy of your registration.
Rules are even more restrictive when taking ATVs onto public roadways. To ride on the road, riders must be at least 16 years old and carry at least an M2 license. All passengers must be 8 years of age or older and be able to reach the footrests. Riders and passengers need to wear high-quality helmets and wear a seatbelt when on side-by-side ATVs. As with off-road only vehicles, always carry proof of insurance and registration on all your travels. You will also need to abide by all the proper rules of the road just like any other motorist, including abiding by speed limits.
Research Where It is Safe to Ride
Not all locations are open to ATVs, so it is important to research the places you intend to visit. Thankfully, all it takes is a quick search to find all the top trails in Canada, such as:
- Ontario’s Seguin Trail
- British Columbia’s Buck Hills Quad Ride
- Manitoba’s Duck Mountain Trails
- Saskatchewan’s Narrow Hills Provincial Park
As you travel down the trails, you will likely come across other ATV enthusiasts. If you have a chance to sit down around the campfire with them later on, be sure to ask for other trail recommendations to try out.
Pilot Your ATV Responsibility
Once you are fully prepared and finally get out on the trail, make sure to keep your wits about you and pilot the ATV responsibly.
Responsible riding means:
- Maintaining a good speed for the weather and trail conditions
- Carefully manoeuvring up and down hills
- Avoiding obstacles in the path
- Staying on trails to preserve the environment
- Keeping noise levels in the appropriate range
When you keep ATV safety in mind at all times, you can avoid incidents that could otherwise derail your plans for fun.
By using these tips whenever you hit the trails, you can stay safe on ATVs through the summer season and all year long.