Important Safety Tips to Avoid ATV Accidents
Virginia’s abundance of ATV trails attracts riders from near and far. The are hundreds of miles of trails where riders can explore our mountainous terrain and take in all of the natural beauty the Commonwealth has to offer. We have a moderate climate during most of the year, and as we get into the spring and summer, the ATV campgrounds and trails will begin to fill up.
There is no doubt that ATV riding is a favorite pastime for Virginians, but it can also be a hazardous one. ATVs are rugged vehicles; and off-road riding creates some added dangers that regular automobile drivers don’t usually encounter.
Helpful Tips for Safely Operating ATVs in Virginia
To ensure a fun and safe ATV riding season, it is very important to follow the rules and adhere to safety guidelines:
Do Not let Children Operate Adult ATVs
According to Virginia law, individuals under the age of 16 are not allowed to operate ATVs with the following exceptions:
- children between the ages of 12 and 16 may operate all-terrain vehicles powered by engines of no more than 90 cubic centimeters displacement; and
- (children less than 12 years old may operate all-terrain vehicles powered by engines of no more than 70 cubic centimeters displacement.
ATVs kill more children each year than bicycles, and individuals who are under a certain age are not developmentally capable of operating powerful vehicles that can exceed 65 mph. Keep your kids safe and do not let them operate adult four-wheelers.
Always Wear a Helmet and Other Safety Gear
Virginia law requires that all ATV riders wear a protective helmet “of a type approved by the Superintendent of State Police for use by motorcycle operators.” Be sure to wear the proper helmet when you are out riding, and don’t forget to put on your goggles, boots, gloves, and a protective outfit.
Do Not Ride on Public Roads and Private Property Except when Authorized
As a general rule, you should stay on designated ATV trails and other riding areas at all times. You are not allowed to ride on a public road except when it is the most direct route to cross over and continue on a designated ATV path, and when authorized by proper authorities or responding to emergencies. Riding on private property is also prohibited without the owner’s written consent or as authorized explicitly by law.
Do Not Ride with Passengers Unless your ATV/UTV Model is Designed for It
Virginia law prohibits passengers from riding in an ATV or UTV unless the specific model is designed and equipped to accommodate more than one rider. Piling on extra riders on a four-wheeler that is not equipped for it increases the chances of a rollover ATV accident.
Travel the Trails in Groups when Possible
Although you cannot have passengers on your four-wheeler in most cases, it is recommended that you ride the trails in groups rather than alone when that is an option. This way, if something goes wrong, you will have companions with you who can administer first aid and call for help.
Do Not Take Unnecessary Risks
When you are riding an ATV in Virginia, you will probably be going through some rough terrain. Always be aware of your surroundings and be on the lookout for more dangerous stretches. In addition, refrain from taking foolish and unnecessary risks such as doing wheelies and other “show off” moves.
Stay Sober while Riding the Trails
Most people are aware of this, but it always bears reminding. Alcohol never mixes well with operating a vehicle of any kind, whether that be a car, truck, ATV, or whatever else. Leave the adult beverages at home and stay sober when you are out riding. There will be plenty of time for partying when your day on the trails is over.
Injured in an ATV Accident in Virginia? Contact Buck, Toscano & Terezkerz for Assistance
Follow all of the laws and best safety practices as you enjoy the ATV trails this season; and do your best to avoid a four-wheeler accident. If you do happen to end up in an accident because of someone else’s negligence or reckless actions, we are here to help. Seek immediate medical treatment, then call our office at (434) 977-7977 for a free consultation and case assessment with one of our attorneys.