ATV safety on the farm

  Spring 2016
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Source: Injury Prevention Centre

When operated safely, all-terrain vehicles (ATVs) are time-saving workhorses on most farming operations. But when used improperly, they can become dangerous machines capable of creating tragic incidents.

To ensure safe use of ATVs on the farm, consider the following messages.
  • ATVs can cause serious injury or death. ATV injuries can be reduced by following these safety practices:
  • Follow all ATV manufacturers’ guidelines.
  • Children under 16 years of age have an increased risk of injury and death on ATVs.
  • ATVs weigh hundreds of kilograms and are harder to control than they appear.
  • Rollover events are the most common cause of serious ATV-related injury and can happen even on flat ground.
  • ATVs cause more injuries than any other consumer product.
No child/youth under 16 years of age should operate an adult ATV. Ensure your child/youth only rides an ATV that is appropriate for their age, weight, and maturity. Follow manufacturers’ recommendations.
  • Children and adolescents are injured as drivers of and passengers on ATVs.
  • In Alberta, children and adolescents accounted for 15% of all ATV-related deaths.
  • Children and youth are at particular risk as they do not have the physical strength, control, coordination or judgment of an adult. Youth-size ATVs might reduce the risk of injury.
  • Use questions from The North American Guidelines for Children’s Agricultural Tasks ( to find out if your child or youth is ready to ride a youth-size ATV for chores.
  • Anyone under 16 years of age operating a youth-size ATV should have constant, close, visual supervision by an adult.
Wear an approved helmet with face and eye protection.
  • Head injuries are the leading cause of serious injury and death in ATV-related injury events.
  • Facial injuries frequently happen to ATV operators.
  • Wear over-the-ankle boots with heels, sturdy gloves, long-sleeved shirts, and long pants.
  • Drive Sober – Alcohol, drugs and ATVs don’t mix.
  • The consumption of alcohol and/or drugs (medication or illicit) is a major factor in ATV injuries and deaths.
  • Even a couple of drinks will impair the ability to operate an ATV.
  • Drinking alcohol and operating an ATV could result in an impaired driving charge.
Refuse to carry or be a passenger on ATVs built for one person.
  • A passenger on a single rider ATV reduces the driver’s ability to stop, turn or shift their weight. A passenger will make the ATV unbalanced.
  • Only carry one passenger on a tandem ATV in the designated passenger seat.
  • Never carry a passenger under 12 years of age or too small to grab the hand rails or plant their feet on the foot rests of a tandem ATV.
  • Take an ATV operator training course.
  • Formal hands-on training is needed to understand how to avoid ATV risks.
  • Look for an ATV training course offered through reputable organizations such as the Alberta Safety Council.
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For more information about the content of this document, contact Kenda Lubeck.
This information published to the web on March 15, 2016.