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ATV Safety

Riding all-terrain vehicles (ATVs) is a very popular sport. But it’s important that you stay safe. Be smart and avoid injury by following the safety rules:

  • Attend training to learn how to operate your ATV correctly
  • Wear a helmet and safety gear
  • Select the right size ATV
  • Don’t ride tandem
  • Don’t ride on pavement
  • Watch your speed

Important things to remember

ATVs are not toys. They are motor-driven vehicles regulated by the Department of Public Safety. There are specific Texas laws established for the operation of ATVs.

  • Children under the age of 16 should never ride an adult-size ATV
  • A driver must attend a state-approved ATV rider certification course before driving on public lands. Call the ATV Safety Institute at 800-887-2887 or check with your local dealers who may sponsor safety courses
  • All operators under 14 must be accompanied by a parent or guardian
  • All operators, while on public lands, must have a safety certificate or be with a parent who has obtained a safety certificate

Always wear protective gear – especially a helmet – when riding an ATV. Many ATV injuries are head injuries. Wearing a helmet may reduce the severity of these injuries. Make sure your helmet is certified by the Department of Transportation and/or the Snell Memorial Foundation. Check your helmet often for signs of wear and replace if there is a question.

Also, wear over-the-ankle boots, goggles, gloves and long pants to protect against cuts and other injuries from rocks and trees.

Select the right size ATV. Children are involved in about one-third of all ATV -related deaths and hospital emergency room injuries. Most of these injuries occur when a child is driving on an adult ATV. Children under 16 on adult ATVs are twice as likely to be injured as those riding youth ATVs.

Do not drive ATVs on paved roads. Many fatalities involving ATVs occur on paved roads. Collisions with other vehicles can be deadly. ATVs are difficult to control on pavement. Texas law prohibits ATV use on public streets except to cross these roads or for agricultural purposes.

Do not drive ATVs with a passenger or ride as a passenger. Most ATVs are designed to carry only one person. You must be able to shift your weight in all directions, depending on the situation and terrain, to maintain safe control. Passengers can make it difficult for drivers to control the ATV.

Maintain a safe speed for the conditions. Always be on the lookout for hazards such as rocks, stumps, low branches, fences and unstable surfaces. Make sure you are in control of the ATV and can stop or avoid the danger. Pay attention to where you are driving.

Always make sure the ATV is in good condition. Check tires and wheels, brakes and steering, lights and mirrors. Check the chain for proper slack and lubrication. Make sure the controls and cable are operational.

Avoid added attachments. Just because an attachment is available doesn’t mean that it won’t affect the stability and operation of the ATV.

Additional Resources