July 12, 2016
Off-Road Adventures: Staying Safe on Your ATV
There have been times in my life when I've felt severely unprepared. I remember starting drivers training and getting behind the wheel for the first time with my instructor, nervously thinking to myself, We've only talked about driving in the classroom—I don't think I'm ready to be on the roads! And during my time as a college student, I've known the horror of being caught off guard by spontaneous pop quizzes. I've even found myself at the starting line of a 25K road running race, regretfully wishing that I had spent more than just two weeks training for the event.
Recalling these experiences makes me glad I was not negligent my first time riding an ATV. This time, I felt prepared. I had carefully learned the rules of riding safely, I was wearing the proper gear, and I was on trails designated for off-road vehicles with other experienced and responsible riders. This preparation gave me confidence and allowed me to relax and enjoy the ride. It was an absolute blast!
Riding an ATV can be thrilling, but also dangerous, so it's important to brush up on how to ride safely before you hit the trails. Whether you are a new rider learning for the first time or an ATV veteran in need of a quick refresher, here are ten tips for being prepared and staying safe on your off-road adventures:
Wear protective gear.
Helmets, goggles, boots and gloves are essential. There are no seatbelts or windshields on ATVs, so you need to be prepared in case of falling, flipping, or getting hit with rocks, branches or bugs.
Conduct a pre-ride inspection.
Before jumping on your ATV for a joyride, check the tires and rims for damage, ensure all cables are intact, examine the chain for worn links, and ensure there's enough lubrication where there needs to be.
Never ride alone.
Crashing, getting lost, running out of gas, and other accidents happen, so it's always a good idea to have other riders with you. You should also be sure to carry a cell phone or walkie-talkie so you can call for help in emergency situations.
Don't drive under the influence.
Drinking and driving isn't safe in a car or on a motorcycle, and it's not safe on an ATV either. Alcohol impairs your reaction time, thinking process and judgment, so never operate any vehicle after you've been drinking.
Take a break when tired.
ATV riding requires strength and mental acuity. If you begin to feel fatigued while riding, don't push yourself. Take a break, rehydrate, and eat some food to reenergize before your next ride.
Allow only one rider at a time.
Most ATVs are designed for only one rider at a time, so inviting passengers to jump on with you is extremely dangerous. Always choose to ride solo because the weight of two or more people will make the ATV unstable and more difficult to control.
Ride in appropriate settings.
ATVs are not designed to be driven on concrete or asphalt, so avoid roads and streets. It's best to seek out designated riding areas because riding on improper terrain could cause damage or increase the likelihood of rolling your ATV.
Be aware of the surroundings.
Don't be oblivious to potential hazards. Take time to learn about your location by memorizing where steep hills, bumps, sharp turns and other tricky areas are. Also be attentive and focused on steering clear of other riders.
Ride the right size.
Don't attempt to ride an ATV that seems either too big or too small. If the size isn't a good fit, you could either have great difficulty controlling the vehicle or increased chances of flipping and falling off.
Don’t attempt tricks or stunts.
There's no need to show off or test the limits of what your off-road vehicle can do. ATV tricks and stunts are very dangerous for both you and those around you, so never ride beyond your ability or try anything you know isn't safe.
Before you take off on an adrenaline-filled and action-packed off-road adventure, remember to make safety your priority. Putting these tips into practice will help you to be prepared, prevent accidents, and make the most of your ATV experience.
Ryker is a multimedia storyteller with interests in writing, video, photography and design. He is on a quest to visit all of the U.S. national parks, and is almost always planning his next camping trip. Combining passions for travel and creative communication, he draws from his experiences to share stories of safety and adventure.
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