Farm use of all terrain vehicles (ATVs) has increased dramatically over the last few years. ATVs were originally designed for recreation. However, the mobility of ATVs and recent development of racks, PTOs and drawbars make them a useful tool on the farm. Though equipped for work, ATVs do not loose their recreational appeal.
Most ATV users, whether riding for work or pleasure, have little or no formal riding training and tend to think of ATVs as toys. On the contrary, ATV’s are “rider active” vehicles, which means riders must master the basic riding skills in order to ride them safely. When given the proper respect, ATVs can be a valuable work tool and provide considerable entertainment. Misuse however could lead to serious injury or death.
In North Carolina, from 1982 to 2006, 302 people were killed in ATV accidents, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission’s ATV safety website. Ninety-seven of them were younger than 16. From 2007 to 2010, an additional 91 people died.
State laws in regards to ATV’s:
• No one under age 8 may operate an ATV.
• Children under age 12 may only operate an ATV under 70cc.
• Children under age 16 may only operate an ATV 90cc or less.
• Children under age 16 must be supervised by a person at least age 18.
• Passengers may not be carried unless the ATV was designed to carry passengers.
• All ATV operators must wear helmet and eye protection.
• ATV use on public streets and highways is prohibited except to cross.
• No ATV shall be operated without a lighted headlight and taillight from ½ hour after sunset to ½ hour before sunrise.
• Effective Oct. 1, 2006, every ATV operator born on or after January 1, 1990, must have an ATV safety certificate.
• Persons using ATVs for farming, hunting or trapping are exempt from the law’s provisions.
ATV Safety Recommendations
• Check your riding area to make sure it is free from hazards such as rocks, stumps, branches and fences.
• Ask permission before riding on private property.
• Use lights, reflectors, and flags to increase the ATV’s visibility.
• Do not show off, perform stunts, or speed.
• ATV tires are not designed for road travel so avoid public roads and paved surfaces because road travel affects the handling and control of the ATV.
• Keep feet on the footrests at all times.
• Remember that certain ATV parts such as the engine, exhaust pipe and muffler are hot and can cause burns.
• Keep hands and feet away from all moving parts on the ATV.
• Maintain proper riding posture to help properly operate the controls.
For more information on ATV safety contact the Vance County Cooperative Extension office at (252) 438-8188.
Safety tips and ATV information provided by NC Cooperative Extension and Oklahoma Cooperative Extension.