The rise in serious accidents involving young off-highway vehicle (OHV) riders prompted the passing of New York State legislation, increasing the minimum age for operating these vehicles from 10 to 14. This law, known as Senate Bill S2702, became effective in February 2024.

The law also raised the minimum age for supervisors of young riders on public lands from 16 to 18. Now, any ATV operator under 16 must be under the supervision of someone over 18, who must also possess an ATV safety certificate.

“The Legislature must take steps to protect young children, whose inexperience and lack of understanding of the potential dangers associated with ATV riding make them a vulnerable population,” according to Senate Bill S2702. “Raising the age to receive a safety certificate and operate an ATV in the same manner as a 16-year-old, as well as removing the provision in the law allowing for supervision by someone 16 or older who has a safety certificate, will help to prevent senseless accidents and deaths.”

Why this new ATV law is important

Contributing to the hazard is the fact today’s ATVs, UTVs and other OHVs boast unprecedented power levels. Despite some safety enhancements, they typically lack the protective capabilities found in conventional road vehicles. That’s especially true with the ATVs targeted by the New York law.

“Depending on the particular model, these vehicles can weigh 600 pounds or more, and reach speeds exceeding 70 miles per hour. Machines of this size and speed are not suitable for young children to operate,” according to the New York law. “According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, operating ATVs is especially dangerous for young children, given their smaller size and relative immaturity; in addition the group believes that children are ‘not developmentally capable of operating these heavy, complex machines.’”

Let’s champion rider safety together

The passing of Senate Bill S2702 in New York State is a positive step toward improving ATV/UTV safety for young riders. However, legislative action alone cannot guarantee their well-being while operating these powerful vehicles.

That’s why Nationwide has launched a new safety campaign, Let’s Champion Rider SafetySM. The focus is on promoting awareness and educating the ATV/UTV community, including young riders and their supervisors, on how to safely enjoy riding these vehicles. By providing resources, training programs and safety tips, the goal is to reduce accidents and injuries among ATV/UTV users on and off the farm.

“ATVs and UTVs are versatile workhorses on today’s farms and ranches. And they’re more popular than ever for rural recreation. They’re also extremely powerful and potentially dangerous — especially for young and inexperienced riders who don't know safe riding practices,” said Nationwide Agribusiness President Brad Liggett. “We’re working to elevate the hugely important ATV/UTV safety conversation. We are also helping provide resources that can help prevent youth tragedies by prioritizing farm and ranch ATV/UTV safety. One tragic death is too many.”

If you ride ATVs, UTVs or other OHVs as a family, for work or recreation, we urge you to visit and become a champion for rider safety.

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