What Not to Do On an ATV (safety tips included)


I recently showed my cousin how to ride four-wheelers and he asked me one really interesting question. He asked what he should not do with an ATV. This got me thinking. I always tell people how to ride ATVs but don’t really warn them about what not to do. With that said, today, I will showcase the top 7 things you should never do on an ATV and explain why.

Here are the top 7 things you should not do on ATV:

  1. Ride under the influence of alcohol or drugs;
  2. Ride without protective gear;
  3. Ride as a passenger or with a passenger (on a regular ATV);
  4. Ride on paved roads (avoid them as much as possible);
  5. Ride during the night (daylight is your friend);
  6. Ride without knowing how to operate ATVs;
  7. Ride ATVs that are too big for you (choose four-wheelers recommended for your age).

This is just a quick rundown of the things you shouldn’t do on an ATV. Keep reading because I will explain in more detail why you should never do those things. That’s not all. I will also share some safety tips that all ATV riders need to know, both new and experienced.

What Should You Not Do on an ATV?

Man riding SuzukI King Quad 450 in the desert

I’ve been riding four-wheelers for a long time, and as you can imagine, I learned a lot of lessons the hard way. For example, I learned that I should always stay off paved roads when riding my four-wheeler because ATV tires are too slippery for regular roads. Without any further ado, here is everything you should not do on an ATV and why:

#1 Don’t Ride Under the Influence of Alcohol or Drugs

I am sure I don’t need to explain why riding under the influence of alcohol or drugs is never a good idea. Riding ATVs is a risky sport and if you go on dangerous roads such as mountain trails, for example, you need to be focused and pay attention to all the little details. Details such as going from riding on dirt to mud so that you can adjust the speed and how you handle the ATV. Having as little as a single beer is more than enough to cloud your judgment. Trust me, it’s always better to be safe than sorry.

#2 Don’t Ride Without Protective Gear

As previously mentioned, riding ATVs is a risky sport. No matter how much attention you pay to avoiding obstacles, there is always the chance of getting hit by a tree branch or even falling off the four-wheeler. Therefore, you should never ride without protective gear. Even though most people think wearing a helmet is good enough, you will be surprised to find out that you also need riding boots to be safe on an ATV. I wrote a full guide that explains why riding boots are a great investment.

Since you probably are a beginner who wants to rent an ATV for the first time, you should make sure to wear the right type of clothing and equipment. Check out this article, where I highlight the most essential equipment that you need to have on your first ATV ride.

#3 Don’t Ride as a Passenger or with a Passenger (on a regular ATV)

Sportsman 450 rider in the desert

If there is one lesson that you don’t want to learn the hard way, it has to be riding with a passenger on a regular ATV. For that matter, you should also avoid being the passenger on a regular ATV. The reason behind this is that most ATVs are designed for just one person. There is not enough room for a passenger, and while you can still fit, it’s never safe. The passenger doesn’t have anything to hold on to, and if you take sharp corners or pull on the gas throttle, the passenger might fall. On the bright side of things, there are 2 person four-wheelers that can comfortably and safely fit a passenger. You can read more about the best 2 person ATVs by clicking here.

#4 Don’t Ride on Paved Roads

Even though this might sound counter-intuitive, riding on paved roads with a four-wheeler is not a good idea, especially if you are new to ATVs and have yet to master handling them. The reason behind this is that ATVs are not designed for paved roads. The tires will not be able to get the required traction to make quick turns. If you also take into consideration that cars and pedestrians will be in close proximity to paved roads, the chances of getting into an accident are quite high. Therefore, I advise all ATV riders to stick to offroad and avoid paved roads. You should only use regular roads when necessary, such as crossing the road.

#5 Don’t Ride During the Night

Riding ATVs is challenging, and there is no doubt about that. You have to constantly be on the lookout for obstacles and pay attention to the road. This is quite difficult during the day, but avoiding all obstacles becomes nearly impossible at night time. No matter how good the headlights of your four-wheeler might be, you will have a difficult time maneuvering the quad safely.

#6 Don’t Ride Without Knowing How to Operate the ATV

While riding quads is easy and fun, you should at least get a quick rundown of where all the important controls are located before jumping on one. I am talking about learning how to operate the throttle, shift gears, and take corners. This doesn’t take longer than a couple of minutes. You can check out my “how to ride a quad” guide that shows the steps you need to follow in order to ride any type of ATV.

The trickiest part about learning how to ride ATVs is steering one. Keeping the four-wheeler in a straight line is fun. However, things get a bit tricky when it comes to taking tight corners and steering. Since I plan on making ATV-Outdoors a resource of knowledge for all riders, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that I wrote a guide on how to steer ATVs. I also include a couple of tips on how to have more control over the handles.

#7 Don’t Ride ATVs That are Too Big for You

Another important lesson you don’t want to learn the hard way is not to ride ATVs that are too big for you. While it can be easy to get all excited about riding ATVs and rent the biggest one available, it’s always better to pick one that is more appropriate for your age and size. You don’t have to rent a quad with an 850cc engine to have a blast riding offroad. Did you know that a 250cc ATV reaches a top speed of 50 MPH? Believe me, 40 to 50 MPH is more than enough to have a great time offroad and get an adrenaline rush.

Top 5 ATV Safety Tips – How to Prevent Accidents

atvs riding in the mud

Now that I covered the top 7 things you should not do on an ATV, it’s time to go over the best ATV safety tips so that you can prevent accidents. I always say that safety is the biggest priority when riding four-wheelers, and I’d love nothing more than to know that by me sharing my experiences on this blog, someone has managed to prevent an accident. Nonetheless, here are the best ATV safety tips:

  • Take a Safety Course

One of the best things you can do in order to improve your ATV riding skills and to get better at preventing accidents is to take a safety course. Depending on the city you live in, the average price for an ATV safety course is $100 to $300. While this might not be cheap, the course can certainly save you a fortune in the long run by preventing accidents that can damage your ATV or get you hurt.

  • Inspect the ATV Before Riding

Another “golden rule” of ATV riding is to take a couple of minutes to inspect the four-wheeler before every ride, especially if it has been sitting in the garage for a couple of weeks. You should try and spot if there are any damages left from the previous ride, such as broken tire treads or wiring connections that don’t work properly anymore. It’s also important to pay attention to the brakes and the pressure of your tires. Having these two in order is essential to a safe ATV riding experience.

  • Ride at Safe Speeds That Allow You to Control the ATV

35 MPH speed limit sign

It’s quite easy to get excited when riding ATVs and keep the gas throttle pulled to the max. However, this is not safe. It’s better to ride at a slower speed where you are confident in your control over the quad. In fact, it’s essential to ride slower when taking corners because if you are not paying attention, you can flip or roll over. If you want to test the top speed of your ATV, you should always do it on a straight road where there are no obstacles in the way.

  • Pay Attention to the Other Riders

People usually rent ATVs in groups. Whether it’s a team-building event or just a group of friends planning to have fun outdoors, you need to pay attention to them when riding quads. Just like you need to keep a safe distance from other cars when driving on the highway, the same thing you need to do on the offroad with quads. Keep in mind that racing is never a good idea. The faster you go, the more challenging it will be to control the quad.

  • Track the Weather

What often gets overlooked when people plan their ATV road trips is the weather. The weather plays a significant role in offroad riding and if you are not equipped or ready for it, you are in for a bad time. Therefore, I always use my iPhone’s default weather app to see if it will rain or snow on the weekend when I plan on riding ATVs. You should do the same if you want to prevent ATV accidents. Riding on muddy trails through the rain is never a good time.

Final Words

Even though the only thing people want to think about when it comes to ATVs is having fun, it’s also important to put safety first. You don’t want to get in an accident that might cost you a fortune in repairs, or even worse, you could get hurt. On the bright side of things, there aren’t that many things you should not do on an ATV.

As long as you don’t ride under the influence and follow the guidelines I presented today, you should be good. After reading my top 7 things you should not do list, you will realize that these are all common sense. It will not take long for you to get used to them.

Bob Kelly

Hey there, my name is Bob and I've been riding ATVs, dirt bikes, and UTVs for most of my life. Going on outdoor adventures has always been my passion. I love sharing tips and tricks with beginners who are getting ready to join the world of outdoor enthusiasts.

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