ATV Safety: Part III

We are wrapping up our ATV riding tips this week with some great general tips for all riders to keep in mind. Check out our other blog posts in the series by clicking here and here.

There is a great safety course that you can take for ATV riding. It’s only a half day class, but it’s great for new riders (or even experienced ones) to get the general lay of the land. If you are under 16 years old, you must be supervised by an adult. The adults in charge should make sure the little ones are on an appropriately sized ATV. You can ensure this by reading the manufacturer’s minimum age warning label on the machine, and then from there use your best judgment on the actual size, strength, and maturity before letting them ride.

Make sure to ride only on trails or on property you’re approved to ride on. Never ride on public roads because the cars and trucks might not see you. There are approved trails within driving distance of Western New York. If you are riding in fields, make sure you’ve received approval from the owner.

Always check out the condition of your machine before heading out for a ride. Check the air pressure of your tires and make sure there is no damage to the tire or wheel to ensure you won’t be stranded on your ride. Test your hand controls to see if they are in good working order. If you will be riding in low light, be sure to check the lights on your ATV before heading out. Keeping on a proper maintenance schedule can alleviate many common issues, such as low oil, improper chain lubrication, loose nuts and bolts, or dead spark plugs. If you’re going for a long ride, fill your gas tank up before heading out so you’re not ending your fun early as the needle points closer to E.

ATVs require a sort of rider action, such as leaning your weight forward and toward the inside of turns. If you are a passenger on a two-up vehicle, your weight shift should always mirror the driver’s weight shift. For other driving tips, check your owner’s manual. The book is designed specifically for your machine and can tell you how to park, brake, shift, and more. IT will also give you the proper maintenance schedule.

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In last week’s blog entry, we spoke about the proper clothing for going out in both cold and hot weather. This week, we’re going to talk about safety equipment.

If you’re on an ATV like the Polaris Sportsman, there’s no seatbelts, roll cage, doors, or safety nets. If you flip this machine over, you’re going to be on the ground. To keep safe, you should wear a DOT-approved helmet. When purchasing a helmet, utilize the knowledge of a salesperson on checking if the fit is right for you. There is a multi-step process they can help you go through. If you purchase or wear an open-faced helmet, make sure you also wear goggles to keep your eyes safe from dirt, debris, and low-hanging sticks.

Wearing appropriate sport gloves and boots will save you from brush burn, as well as keeping any little bugs from attaching themselves to your skin. For younger riders, things like chest protectors can help protect their young bones from injury.

Finally, try not to ride alone. You’re safer and it’s more fun to ride with company. Either way, keep a fully-charged cell phone on you or with your group at all times. If you’re going to be riding through mud or water, keep it in a water-tight bag.

Fall ATV Riding Tips: What to Wear

With chilly, dark mornings, sunny, colorful afternoons and weekends, and pumpkin spice everything, Fall in full swing here in Western New York! It is a great time to go riding on the trails on your ATV or side by side. However, you should be aware of a few tips to make riding safe and enjoyable for all. This is going to be a multi-part series over the next few weeks, so keep your eyes out for these posts!

Firstly, we all know how changeable the weather can be here in WNY, with the memories of the 2006 October Storm and last year’s November Snowpocalypse still fresh in everyone’s minds. Look up the weather forecast before you head out on the trail and dress appropriately. If it’s going to be cold, dress in layers appropriate to the activity. If you’re riding out to hunt, you’re not going to be generating much body heat and need more layers to insulate against losing your body heat. If you are riding out to go hiking, you’ll likely need to take some of the layers off so you don’t get over heated. Keep a bag or backpack handy to put the layers in after removal. Regardless of your activity, gloves, thick socks, and a hat are important. Now, you should be wearing a helmet but we’ll get to that later. If you still find your fingers and toes getting chilly, most places have those one-time use warmer packs by the check-out stand.

On the flip side, if it’s going to be warm and sunny, make sure you wear sunscreen, drink some water, wear loose-fitting and breathable clothing, and be aware of the signs of heat stroke and exhaustion. If you or your ride partners start feeling any of these symptoms, get in the shade immediately and get some water in you. If someone passes out, use your cell phone to call for emergency help – either the park staff or 911. Just like with hypothermia, speed is of the essence.