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Though the seat on an ATV may seem large enough for two, it is designed to accomodate the operator only. The operator needs the entire seat to safely negotiate rough terrain. Approximately one third of all accidents occur when ATVs are ridden double. Carrying passengers also increases the weight on the ATV and makes it harder to maneuver.

ATVs are not licensed vehicles and are for off-road use only. Riding on hard surfaces, such as pavement or concrete, makes it more difficult to turn the ATV.

The balloon tires on ATVs that make them able to handle many different types of terrain also make them difficult to handle at times. The tires have a tendency to bounce when going across rough terrain and will hydroplane easily when crossing water at high speeds.

Another major cause of ATV accidents is failure to ride within there skills. Stay away from tough riding areas such as steep inclines and extremely rough terrain, until riding skills have developed. Riders younger than 16 years of age are more likely to have accidents, because they often feel they have mastered all riding skills after a short period of time. Experienced riders should always supervise riders within this age group until their riding skills have fully developed.

Figure 2. ATVs operating in state owned riding areas must have a 10' whip antenna with a bright red or orange flag.

Riding Skills

As stated earlier, ATVs are “rider active” vehicles and require some basic riding skills for safe operation. Riders must shift their weight in order to keep the ATV balanced while turning or riding on inclines.


Although some ATVs are equipped with a differential rear axle, most have a solid rear axle, which causes both wheels to rotate at the same speed. In this case, the inside tire on the turn must slip when the ATV is turning. To get the tire to slip, the rider shifts his weight to reduce load on the inside tire. The rider supports most of his weight on the outer footrest while leaning his upper body to the inside slightly. As speed increases the


rider must lean his upper body even farther into the turn while still supporting his weight on the outer footrest. If the ATV starts to tip over, the rider should reduce his speed and shift his weight to the center of the machine.


Climbing hills can be challenging and fun, but remember that some hills are simply too steep for riding abilities and that others are too steep for even an expert’s riding abilities. When climbing hills, approach the hill in low gear with enough speed to reach the top, but not so much to go too fast when reaching the crest. If unfamiliar with the riding area, slow down at the top and turn along the crest of the hill. Keep feet on the footrests and lean forward to keep weight on the front axle. When start losing speed, downshift quickly and smoothly to keep moving without raising the front wheel off the ground.

If there is not enough power to continue uphill, stop the ATV and set the parking brake. If you can, drag the rear of the machine around so that it is heading downhill. Remount and coast to the bottom of the hill using the rear brake to control speed. Do not try to back down or let ATV roll backwards downhill. If the ATV starts to roll backwards, apply the front brake. If this does not stop motion, jump free of the machine.

Recreation Use

Oklahoma is blessed with many different types of riding terrain ranging from the flat, wide open spaces of the pan- handle to the mountain trails of the Southeastern portion of the state. The Oklahoma Tourism and Recreation Depart- ment currently maintains seven off-road riding areas in the state. Each of these areas has its own specific rules, but one universal rule is that all ATVs must have a 10 foot whip antenna displaying a bright orange or red flag (Figure 2).

ATVs are popular transportation to favorite hunting or fishing areas and are often used to carry a variety of supplies to these areas. When carrying supplies the ATV should be equipped with sufficient rack space. The rider should be free to operate the machine and not be required to carry or secure anything.

When transporting guns on ATVs, make sure they are unloaded and carried in a properly mounted scabbard. The gun should point toward the ground. When mounted side- ways the gun can be hit by brush and could cause an accident.

Farm Use

ATVs serve a wide variety of uses on farms ranging from gathering livestock to transportation to remote areas. ATVs are often used to haul small loads and pull trailers. Sprayers can be mounted on them, equipped with either a hand gun or boom (Figure 3). Mowers to pull behind ATVs are also being marketed. Whatever the use, always consider ATV safety and follow extra safety precautions for specific tasks.

When gathering livestock, the rider often concentrates more on the animals than the terrain. Failure to watch changing terrain or look for unexpected obstacles can lead to a serious accident. Loose wire Iying in a pasture, brush, or vines can pull feet from footrests, resulting in an injury. Tall grass in pastures can hide obstacles such as holes, stumps, or rocks from a rider’s view.

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