Monthly Safety Blasts – ATV Safety for youth and adults

Although ATVs are used all year round on the farm or ranch, ATV use is especially prevalent in the summer time when youth and adolescents are off from school. Whether ATVs are used for work tasks or recreationally, safety should always be a priority. Youth who reside and work on farms are exposed to potentially dangerous farm hazards more frequently than other youth. Understanding how to create a safe farm environment is important for farm operators and their families.


Keep in mind the main hazards of ATV use are overturns or collision with fence or trees. Both can cause death or serious injury. 2

Serious ATV injury incidents increase at high speeds.

When selecting an ATV that offers the most versatility for agriculture work, choose one with a coil spring shock absorber suspension system, an automatic clutch, reverse gear, shaft drive, and a differential with a locking mechanism.


With ATV-related injuries for youth under 16 years:

  • No helmet use
  • Poor judgment and risk-taking behaviors
  • Male gender
  • Operating an ATV larger than that recommended for their size and age
  • Lack of physical size, strength, and coordination to operate an ATV
  • Operating three-wheeled ATVs
  • Increased driving exposure
  • Operating on public roads, streets, and highways
  • Riding with a passenger 1


Adults need to make sure that:

  • Make sure all safety features are in place (crush-protection or roll bar)
  • Engine size is appropriate for age and size of rider
  • ATV is in good working order
  • Youth do not operate ATVs after dark or in bad weather
  • Youth do NOT operate three wheeled ATV
  • Work area has no hazards
  • Youth know safe route to work site
  • Youth can communicate with adult by cellphone or walkie talkie or other method
  • Youth wear DOT approved (or equivalent) helmet with eye protection
  • Youth wears long sleeved shirt, long pants, non-skid closed toe shoes, and leather gloves. 2


All-terrain vehicles can be both practical and fun for farm families but they also pose risks. Reduce the dangers, and the number and severity of injuries, by following good safety practices whenever an ATV is used.


For adult and youth riders:

  1. Use lights, reflectors and flags to increase the smaller ATV’s visibility.
  2. Don’t show off, speed or try to perform stunts. Speed always increases risk of injury or death.
  3. No passengers. ATVs have one seat for one operator.
  4. Avoid public roads and paved surfaces. ATV tires are not designed for road travel.
  5. Keep your ATV off hard surfaced roads as these increase the risk of loss of control and roll-over.

ATVs are also getting bigger and faster, ranging up to 700cc and more in engine size, weighing 600 or more pounds, with speeds exceeding 70 miles per hour. Machines of this size and speed are not suitable for most youth. Lifelong enjoyment and use of these popular recreational and work vehicles is possible through training in safe ATV operation.

See below age and size recommendation for ATV operation supported by manufacturers. 5

Age of Operator ATV Engine Size
Under 6 years of age No operation etc.
Age 6 to 11 Under 70cc
Age 12 – 15 70 – 90 cc
16 years and older over 90cc



  1. CSN Rural Injury Prevention Resource CenterThe Marshfield Medical Research & Education Foundation | ATV Safety Packet
  2. The North American Guidelines for Children’s Agricultural Tasks
  4. Injuries to Youth on Hispanic Farm Operations