ATV Rules And Regulations
If you've recently purchased an ATV, one of the first orders of business is to learn about ATV rules and regulations in your state. There are no federal laws on ATVs aside from a mandated age restriction of 12 years old or older. These rules vary from state to state, requiring owners to have licenses and insurance coverage in some and training certification and vehicle registration in others. To assume you can get right to riding is unwise, as it could result in a fine from local law enforcement. Instead, take time to learn more about your state's laws. This is not only imperative for you, but your youth riders too if you have children interested in operating their own ATVs.
Most states have their own rules and regulations for ATVs; however, some have no legislation. A few different laws that you'll find differ from state to state include passenger restrictions, liability insurance, safety training and certification, operator licensing, muffler guidelines, safety apparel, and many more. If you're thinking about purchasing an ATV or you've recently gotten one, it will pay to know your state's laws. Failure to abide by these will result in fines upwards of hundreds of dollars. You can find these laws by visiting your state government's official website or the official Department of Motor Vehicles website.
Every ATV manufacturer explicitly prints warnings and safety guidelines on their models and in owner's manuals. If you've operated an ATV before, you've likely seen danger, warning, and caution stickers on the ATV. Age restrictions are strict and for good reason. For instance, a 12-year-old child cannot efficiently operate an adult ATV, as they simply aren't old enough. Not only do they lack experience, but they also don't weigh nearly enough to handle the weight of a large ATV. No person under the age of 12 is permitted to operate an ATV no matter the state. From ages 12 to 16, a person over the age of 18 must be present for supervision. For young riders, there are differently sized ATVs to suit their age and size. One regulation that manufacturers have put into place that is often ignored is single passenger operation. The majority of ATVs are designed for one rider, but many choose to seat two. This puts both people in danger should a collision or sudden terrain change occur. Because of this, many states have passed laws regarding passenger restrictions.
How Can New Riders Stay Safe?
It's easy to abide by your state laws and have fun at the same time. One tip on staying safe is to enroll in a safety course if you're not accustomed to operating ATVs or you have a young child interested in having a youth ATV. Even if your state doesn't enforce safety certification, it's a good idea to get firsthand information from a professional instructor. They'll ensure you know the ins and outs of operating an ATV and they'll assuredly mention state laws, too. If you aren't riding on private property you or a friend own, double-check to ensure it's legal for you to ride there. Another tip is to ride at your own pace with total control. Say your friends are running their ATVs at top speed with no safety gear. Do you follow suit? No! Not only do you want to follow state laws, but you also want to have a completely safe ride. If you feel that your group is toeing the line a bit too much, it might not be a bad idea to hang back. Even if you're being a sensible rider, mistakes made by a fellow rider could cause an unnecessary accident.
The bottom line here is to make safety your top priority. While ATVs are endlessly fun to operate, they're dangerous and powerful. Rules and regulations are put into place for a reason and failing to abide by them could result in an injury or worse. Know your state laws, follow manufacturer guidelines, enroll in a hands-on ATV safety course, wear the appropriate safety gear, and ride at your own pace. If you can do all of these, you will have a safe and fun ride every time. For young riders, instilling a respect for the law and rider knowledge will make them a better, more sensible ATV operator in the future.