Practice ATV and UTV Safety

June 28, 2022
ATVs contribute to more than 100,000 injuries each year. Brittney Nelson, a senior risk management representative with Nationwide, offers tips to keep operators safe on and off the farm.  

All-terrain vehicles (ATVs) and utility task vehicles (UTVs) are valuable assistants on farms and ranches, but operators may take their safety liabilities for granted. Brittney Nelson, a senior risk management representative at Nationwide, a major insurance provider for ag business, says ATVs contribute to 700 deaths and more than 100,000 injuries each year. While the statistics are startling, Nelson says diligence and a safety-focused mindset will help keep operators safe.  

On-farm ATV and UTV safety

Nelson urges farmers to understand what their equipment is designed for and respect its limitations. Many accidents happen when too many riders are on an ATV or UTV. Exceeding passenger limitations or weight restrictions can severely impact how the vehicle operates. “With ATVs, passengers can inhibit the driver’s ability to shift, which could cause a rollover,” Nelson explains.

ATV safety on public roads

Equipment operation off the farm adds additional risks for riders. “When operating ATVs and UTVs off the farm, on a public highway or even on a gravel road, operators need to understand how quickly a passenger vehicle can approach. A vehicle moving 55 miles per hour or more can reach an ATV in five seconds. Five seconds may seem like a lot, but when you’re in that situation it’s going to come very fast,” says Nelson.

ATVs are designed for use on dirt or gravel surfaces. Operating them on paved surfaces reduces equipment stability, making them more vulnerable to a rollover, she explains. Although these vehicles have many safety features in place to protect passengers, Nelson says operators need to take the time to understand the features and use them correctly.

Consider skill level and operator age

Too many ATV-related injuries involve children, who may lack the development or skills to operate ATVs. Nelson recommends following manufacturer guidelines to limit anyone under 16 years old to youth models. These vehicle models are designed for smaller body sizes and allow adjusting the maximum speed to age-appropriate settings.

ATVs and UTVs are engineered for off-road terrain that can have holes, ruts, wires and fences. Teaching young kids and new operators how to navigate those obstacles safely is critical, says Nelson. “ATVs and UTVs are large pieces of equipment with a lot of power that new users may not be equipped to handle. I highly recommend safety courses for children and new operators and encourage using protective equipment, including helmets.”

Nationwide supports farmer safety

Nationwide has a vested interest in farm and ranch safety, says Nelson. “We’re out there with farmers every single day. Our goal is to keep them safe so they can pass their legacy on to the next generation.”