ATV Crashes - Learn How to Reduce Your Risk of Injury.
How to avoid ATV crashes - and how to avoid injuries if you don't.
Injuries resulting from ATV crashes are an all too common occurrence. So
how do you minimize your chances of being injured? This is one of those
cases when the best advice is the most obvious. Don't crash.
But if you can't resist the temptation to become a yard dart, we'll give
you some tips to try to keep you walking upright. First off, how about
some tips on not being involved in ATV wrecks at all?
Best Ways to Avoid ATV Crashes.
- Attend a certified ATV rider training course. That will
give you a great head start on learning good riding techniques that
will stay with you a lifetime.
- Gain experience. Give yourself time to get used to your
ATV. A fourth of all injuries happen to riders with less than a month
of experience. A full half of all injuries happen to those with less
than a year of riding experience.
- Don't drink or do drugs and then ride. The latest US
government reports show that over 30% of all ATV crashes involve some
type of rider impairment.
- Ride at a reasonable speed for you, the ATV, and the
conditions. ATVs are designed to go over extreme terrain and they do
that very well. They are not intended for high speeds. A high center of
gravity, narrow track width, short wheelbase, and low pressure tires,
don't add up to high speed stability.
- Don't overload your 4 wheeler, and don't carry a
passenger on a machine not intended for it. Too much weight on either
end of your quad will make it much more unstable. A passenger on the
back could even prevent you from being able to steer! Your
chances of flipping over or rolling over increase dramatically when
your ATV has an unbalanced load. And those are the two main causes of
most injuries and fatalities in ATV crashes.
- Don't make unapproved modifications to your four
wheeler. Changing wheel and tire sizes, suspension mods, lift kits,
etc., can really screw up the handling of your ATV if not done
- Follow a regular maintenance schedule. Be sure to check
the condition of tires, steering, suspension, and brakes before every
ride. Pilots call it a pre-flight - but flight is what you really want
to avoid in this case!
- Use good, common sense judgment. The best advice here
is don't tackle obstacles you don't know you can handle. Don't ride
faster than you can see in unfamiliar areas. Don't try to cross a
suspended bridge with broken or rotted planks. (That might have been in
an Indiana Jones movie - good advice anyway). You get the
picture. Don't do stupid stuff. Remember the equation - Stupid x Speed =
Pain. More importantly, don't involve someone else in your stupid
stuff. The pain of causing a friend or loved one to be hurt is often
worse than your own physical pain.
Best Ways to Reduce Injuries in ATV Crashes.
OK, let's suppose the worst has happened. You're flying at low
altitude looking for a soft spot to land. What should you be wearing and
what should you do.
- Wear a helmet. You've heard it a million times. You
know deep down it's true. Just do it. Your odds of survival just
improved 42%. And you just reduced the possibility of non-fatal head
injury by 64%. To be or not to be a vegetable - that is the question.
- Wear a jacket with a good spine protector. Central
nervous system injuries account for about 80% of all fatalities from
ATV crashes. Spinal Chord injuries are on the list right behind head
injuries. While you're at it - you might as well add elbow and
forearm protection to that jacket. It doesn't cost much more and you
won't even know it's there. Except when you bounce off some rocks and
don't even feel it! Another option is the motocross style chest,
shoulder, and back protector. In hot weather this rig may be a little
cooler while still giving good protection.
- Add a neck brace and protector if you want to be
thorough. It looks like a foam rubber donut but can keep your neck from
getting overextended. Also protects the collarbone from the bottom of
- Wear goggles. Ever been hit in the eye by a bumblebee
at a closing speed of about 60 mph? It ain't fun. My eyes aren't what
they used to be but I would like to preserve the vision I have left.
Just think about how irritating a little speck of something is when
it gets in your eye. Now think about that little speck being jammed
into your eye at about 50 mph. You don't really need that kind of
aggravation do you?
- Wear gloves. They don't have to be anything fancy. Good
deerskin or elk skin gloves will work just fine. If you want to step
up to a padded motocross style glove, it would give you that little
extra bit of protection.
- Wear long pants. Padded motocross type pants for the ultimate insurance against injury.
- Wear boots or shoes that cover the ankles. Once again,
motocross boots are the best. Bike racers have been crashing their
brains out for decades so their stuff is pretty well tested. (I know - I
- Try to get away from the ATV in a crash. Most injuries happen when the machine rolls over on the rider.
- Tuck and roll before you hit the ground. Skydivers are
really good at this. Basically, cross your arms across your chest, tuck
your chin down, and dip your shoulder as you hit the ground. Think
rolling fetal position. Stay curled up until you stop moving.
Don't stick your arms and hands out to try to break the fall. I know
that's a hard instinct to overcome. Practice on a mat or mattress, or a
sawdust pile or something relatively soft if you feel the need.
This police training video shows the technique as used for
bike crashes. It's a good demonstration of what we are trying to do in
You can see from the things covered in this report that a little common
sense, plus some training and preparation, can drastically reduce your
risk of injury from ATV crashes.
ATV Safety Institute.
OSHA report on ATV hazards.
US Consumer Products Safety Commission Annual ATV Report.