Popular but hazardous if not handled with care
ATVs/UTVs can do a lot of work on farms and ranches. And they’re increasingly popular for recreation in rural areas. But they can be hazardous — especially for young ATV/UTV riders — without proper training and safe riding practices. The first half of 2023 alone saw more than 200 off-highway vehicle (OHV) fatalities around the country. Almost one quarter of those deaths were operators under age 16.
"ATVs and UTVs can be a source of joy and excitement for you, your families and friends. They’re also great tools that can make farming easier and more efficient," said Earnhardt, who has ATVs/UTVs on his property outside of Charlotte, NC. "But they can also be extremely dangerous if not handled with care."
Reasons why there’s so much need for ATV/UTV safety champions
Why is now the time to become an ATV/UTV safety champion? It’s always a perfect time to be a better rider/driver.
Ease of use
Especially with newer models, many ATVs/UTVs are intuitive to operate, and that makes them attractive for farmers with limited mobility and younger or generally inexperienced operators. That’s true even for young operators who may lack the experience and training necessary to ride safely. But because they lack the safety equipment required on cars and trucks, ease of use doesn’t translate to safe operation, especially for inexperienced operators or those with whose mobility is limited.
While early ATVs/UTVs were equipped with smaller powertrains, many of the machines on the market today offer much more power. Some larger UTVs feature rugged construction, including suspension systems that rival some highway vehicles. Combined with the speed capabilities — some UTVs can travel faster than 60 MPH — making it extremely important for every rider to get proper training and to wear appropriate gear every time someone rides or drives, even experienced operators.
Different safety equipment
Though most UTVs do have safety components like seatbelts, harnesses and roll cages, they’re not designed to provide the same protection as comparable features of motor vehicles intended for roadway use. In addition to providing different types of protection in case of an accident, these components can also cause operators to develop a false sense of security.
Changing state laws and regulations
Lawmakers in many agricultural states have in recent years loosened laws around ATV/UTV operation, specifically on public roadways. As of July 2022, OHVs can by law be operated on paved or unpaved rural roads in some states under specific circumstances. But just because it’s legal doesn’t make it safe. ATVs and UTVs were built to ride and drive off-road, not on-road.
"Enjoy your ATVs and UTVs — but do it responsibly. We need to remember and understand why it's important to know how to ride, where to ride and who's riding on your land. It's all about finding the right balance and being mindful of the risks involved,” Earnhardt said. “We need to respect the power of these machines and the potential risks they pose."
We want to keep you safe whenever you climb on an ATV/UTV
At Nationwide, we want to be your partner in championing ATV/UTV safety in rural America. First, always prioritize personal health and safety by following ATV/UTV safety rules every time you plan on riding an ATV/UTV. Then, think about whether you have the right insurance in place for personal, property and liability. Talk to your Nationwide Farm Certified agent to make sure you’re covered if you’re adding an ATV/UTV to your operation.