Between January and March of 2017 in the U.S., over 41.000 all-terrain vehicles were sold. ATVs are generally viewed as a fun, if dirty, activity that is harmless. But as ATV dealers will tell you, these vehicles can be dangerous if improperly handled. Here’s what you need to know to keep you and your family members safe, while still having a good time.
Did You Know There Are Different Types of ATVs?
An ATV is not a one-size fits all vehicle. It is also a vehicle with enough stylistic and motorized differences to make careful shopping a necessity. These vehicles are unlike motorcycling, dirt biking, snowmobiling, or even driving a motor vehicle.
ATV Driving: It’s Like Riding a Bike, Right?
An ATV does not handle at all like other personal motorized vehicles. For one, its four wheels have a different center of gravity as compared to a bike. A lower profile means that turns, hills, and dips must be handled differently even than on a two-wheeler, such as a mountain bike. The first X Games in 1995 might have inspired millions of people over the years to do incredible stunts, but an ATV is not meant to be used in such a way. Practice caution.
Secondly, part of what makes an ATV so much fun can also make it dangerous in inexperienced hands. It has to do with the terrain. The four-wheeler is heavy and cumbersome, which takes some practice to maneuver around hilly or rocky terrain. The rider must have a good understanding and knack for re-distributing their weight as needed during the ride.
Age Matters: Why Children Need a Child-Sized ATV.
Because an ATV relies on the rider’s skill for safety, it should be obvious that children must be a certain age before operating one. A child’s ATV is a must for all children under the age of 16 or so depending on their size. As you will see at ATV dealers, children’s ATVs are smaller in both size and motor power, which corresponds to the suggested age range.
Always take into consideration the size of your child, their experience, and the terrain. Even if your ATV can handle more challenging terrain, never push your children’s ATVs to handle a route that is beyond their capabilities. Safety should come before thrills.
How Do You Plan to Use Your ATV?
Not all ATVs are used for pleasure. Many people use theirs for assistance on the ranch or farm. Some people race their ATVs competitively. An ATV that is meant for getting around on a farm won’t have the necessary capabilities for racing, and vice versa. Talk to a few ATV dealers about your expectations so that they can steer you in the right direction.
An ATV can be a great way to unwind on the weekend with the family. Or it can be a a thrilling activity for the adults. Either way, safety takes precedence anytime anyone climbs on an ATV, so it is important to know a few key points first. Don’t be afraid to start slow, always wear the proper protective gear, and remember an ATV needs to have the correct engine size according to the rider’s size and age. Good references.