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All Terrain Vehicles
All-terrain vehicles (ATVs), also known as 4-wheelers, have become very popular work and recreation vehicles. When used properly, ATVs are useful and enjoyable. Unfortunately, many people do not operate ATVs safely. While some are unaware of the potential for injury, others simply ignore safety precautions.
Riding an ATV without protective equipment would be similar to playing football without pads and a helmet. The risk of serious injury or death increases dramatically for riders who do not wear safety equipment. Riders should always:
- Wear an approved helmet (preferably full-faced).
- Use safety goggles if the helmet does not have a face shield.
- Wear long pants and a long-sleeved shirt or jacket.
- Wear gloves to protect the hands.
- Wear over-the-ankle boots with a heel to prevent foot slippage.
In addition to wearing protective gear and clothing, ATV riders should observe these safety practices: Do not ride on public roads or pavement. ATVs are built for off-road use and do not handle well on paved surfaces. ACT 804 of 1987 prohibits ATV use on public roads in Arkansas. Exceptions are allowed for directly crossing a road or for going from one farm field to another if there is not another access. Do not carry passengers. ATVs are rider-active vehicles that require the operator to change positions often. The driver needs the full length of the seat to control the ATV. The additional weight of a passenger will also upset the balance of the ATV. Persons under the age 16 should not operate adult-sized ATVs (90cc or greater). Under-aged children do not possess the physical size or maturity necessary to ride adult-sized ATVs. A four-year study by the Consumer Product Safety Commission found that 40% of the ATV deaths and injuries involved children under 16. Never attempt to operate an ATV while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Ride with a partner on another ATV when possible. Another person may be needed to go for help in case of a breakdown or accident.
An ATV should be inspected before it is ridden. The owner's manual will have instructions on how to check the ATV. At the very least, this inspection should include tires and wheels, controls, lights and switches, oil, and fuel levels, and filters. The owner's manual and tool kit should be carried in the storage compartment.
The ATV Rider Course
In order to promote proper use of ATVs, the ATV Safety Institute (ASI) offers the ATV RiderCourse. ASI is the educational division of the Specialty Vehicle Institute of America, an association of the ATV manufacturers (Honda, Yamaha, Suzuki, and Kawasaki). The course is taught by certified instructors and takes about half a day to complete. Some dealers may offer incentives to take the course. For more information on an ATV RiderCourse in your area, ask an authorized dealer for details or call 1-800-887-2887.
Insuring Your ATV
You might think that your Homeowner policy provides coverage for your ATV and the liability associated with operating it; however, most Homeowners polices exclude these types of exposures. A General Liability policy may provide you with very limited liability and medical coverage for your ATV. Your ATV is exposed to many of the same loss exposures as your automobile, such as collision with another object, theft, or an accident causing bodily injury. Southern Farm Bureau Casualty Insurance Company's Auto policy can provide protection you need for your ATV. The following coverages are available: comprehensive, collision, property damage and bodily injury liability, medical payments, and uninsured motorist coverages. Whether or not you decide to purchase insurance for your ATV, these safety precautions could very well save your life.
Please Note: These suggested safety precautions are provided as a Farm Bureau member service. Farm Bureau Mutual Insurance Company of Arkansas, Inc. does not assume or accept any liability for damages resulting from the use of this information.