Taking your all-terrain vehicles out on the weekend can be a fun way for the whole family to unwind. There’s something about driving on a bumpy path that makes it more entertaining than just driving your car. If the trail is a few miles away from your house, you might consider just driving your ATV right there.
Taking your ATV on the road, however, is incredibly dangerous. You should know why it is risky to drive your ATV on public streets and how to keep your family safe on them.
ATV-related deaths continue to rise
In South Dakota, ATVs are legal to drive on all roads except interstate freeways. But being legal does not mean that it is safe.
Most ATV use occurs on off-road trails. But over 60% of deaths caused by ATVs occur on paved roads. ATVs expose their drivers to the outside world instead of covering them with a roof—so an accident can be even more dangerous than it might be in a car.
Another reason that more deaths occur on roads than on trails is that ATV manufacturers design their vehicles to work better in rougher conditions. They tend to be tall and narrow with a high center of gravity—which is good for driving over bumpy dirt and rocks. But on a flat, paved road, all it does is increase the chance of rolling over.
What can you do to ride safely?
It may be legal to drive your ATV on the road—but most experts advise against it. Whether you are riding on pavement or dirt, you should always be as safe as possible. Make sure to:
- Supervise young riders
- Ride only on designated trails
- Never allow more people on an ATV than it is designed for
- Wear a helmet and appropriate clothing
- Stay on the trail and at a safe speed
Being cautious could mean the difference between going back home after your ride and going to the hospital. There’s no such thing as too safe—especially if you are riding with your children, who might not be as experienced. Staying off the road and being careful even on trails can help ensure that your ATV ride doesn’t end in disaster.