Typically, ATV use on public streets is restricted to responding to an emergency, agricultural purposes (hunting), official business, or for people with certain physical disabilities. Please check local regulations for more details.
Many states impose conditional street legal requirements that vary based on local jurisdiction, including following designated signage, adhering to age restrictions, and adhering to various speed limits.
ATVs can be an exciting and engaging way to explore, especially on trails through breathtaking scenery. However, ATVs should not be treated like toys; treat them like any vehicle on the road and you could endanger both you and other motorists.
Wear a helmet meeting Department of Transportation safety standards at all times when riding a motorized vehicle to reduce the likelihood of serious head injuries in an accident. Goggles should also be worn to shield eyes from flying debris; rocks, dirt and trees often loosening from their roots can come loose during rough terrain driving and strike you right in the face, potentially inflicting painful injuries to both riders and their eyes.
Under the influence of drugs or alcohol, never operate an ATV as this will impair both judgment and reaction time – both essential elements for safe driving. Also avoid carrying passengers onto ATVs that were never designed for such use – adding passengers makes the vehicle less stable, increasing your risk of tipping over.
Know Your Vehicle
Selecting an ATV that meets your individual needs is one of the first decisions to be made when purchasing an off-road vehicle, and there are certain details you must understand to safely operate it.
An ATV is a four-wheeled machine intended for one rider to use solo and can be used either recreationally or professionally, although some also refer to them as quads or four-wheelers. A UTV usually allows side-by-side riding so some refer to them simply as side by sides or SXSs for short.
ATVs are built for rough terrain, but can become unstable if driven on pavement or at high speeds. As such, ATV riders should always ride within the confines of a trail rather than off-roading them. Furthermore, having someone nearby as help should an accident or other emergency arise is another good practice; having children around to assist is especially critical as 90% of ATV deaths and injuries happen to children under 16! To protect children it’s wise to ensure they use an ATV suited to their size if possible.
Know Your Environment
Operating an ATV on public highways must include having proper operating brakes and headlights as well as being fitted with a muffler, as this could disrupt wildlife habitat, riparian areas, cultural or natural resources or other people’s property.
Not all children can safely operate all sizes of ATVs. A child’s physical size, strength, coordination, visual perception and emotional maturity will affect his ability to ride any specific ATV. Many states mandate successful completion of the All-Terrain Vehicle Safety Institute’s (ASI) training program for minor-aged ATV riders who purchase new machines that fall within state guidelines for age and size limits.
ATVs feature three to six wheels and can either be designed as sport or utility models. Sports models are specifically engineered for performance use in disciplines like Motocross, Woods Racing, Desert Racing or Hare Scrambles.
Know the Law
As soon as you take your ATV onto public roads, it must comply with local and state regulations. This includes following driving rules as well as age requirements to operate one. Even if your ATV isn’t technically street legal, there may be conditional regulations which allow it if certain safety features and criteria are fulfilled.
Oklahoma law restricts those under the age of eighteen from operating an ATV unless accompanied by an authorized licensed driver over 21 or permitted to ride private property with permission. Furthermore, when operating on public highways an ATV must include muffler, properly functioning brakes and headlights for safe riding.
In other states, ATVs may also be known as quads. A key distinction between an ATV and UTV is that an ATV is designed for one passenger while UTVs may accommodate several. Typically, successful completion of an ATV safety training class is necessary in order to operate it on public lands and trails.
Chris is a passionate learner and writer. When he’s not working on his blog or learning something new, he’s a full-time systems administrator and father of two beautiful girls. Chris loves spending time with his family, reading, writing, and playing hockey.