1. If your child isn’t already riding an ATV, ask yourself some tough questions and answer them honestly. Is your child emotionally, physically and mentally ready to ride an ATV? If not, don’t push it.
2. If so, start with basic safety gear: a DOT-approved helmet, goggle, boots, gloves and sturdy jeans. If your child enjoys riding, then spring for more specialized gear such as ATV/motorcycle-specific boots, a jersey, riding pants and a chest protector.
3. Develop your child’s sense of personal safety as early as possible. Don’t even allow your child to sit on an ATV without wearing a helmet.
4. Kids are susceptible to peer pressure that could make them do things they shouldn’t do. Counter that with parental guidance. A parent who is along for a ride is in the best position to realize when a young rider could be in over his or her head and that is the time to stop and offer guidance.
5. Watch for signs that a child needs to take a break.
1. The best way to train your child is to enroll him or her in a course led by an ATV Safety Institute trainer. For information on courses, contact the ATV Safety Institute at (800) 887-2887 or visit www.atvsafety.org. If you can’t find a course near you then you will need to train your child yourself.
2. Communication is key. Explain in detail everything your child needs to do. For example, until you explain how, your child won’t know that “shift to a lower gear” actually means “tap the shifter down with your toe.”
3. Take one step at a time. There are a lot of steps involved in operating an ATV, and riding safely involves performing those steps properly. Concentrate on the basics until your child demonstrates complete control of the machine.
4. Remember that a child masters each skill at his or her own pace. It will take time before he or she progresses enough to combine several skills simultaneously.
5. Praise your child when progress is made.
6. Don’t let your child’s frustrations become yours. If things aren’t going well, taking a break is often the best solution. Talk about what is going well and what skills need improvement while resting and having a drink or snack.
7. Work within your child’s limits. Just because one child learned a certain skill quickly doesn’t necessarily mean that another child will. Every child learns differently.
8. Be the voice of reason. Only allow your child to try something new after honestly assessing his or her ability to succeed at it.
9. Remember that it’s difficult for young learners to be aware of everything that’s going on around them. Be your child’s eyes and ears while he or she is riding. If you see a danger sign, take action immediately.
10. New riders need supervision. The best way to assess your child’s skills is to be along for the ride so that you can stop and offer guidance exactly when it’s needed.
5 Where To Ride Tips
1. Local contacts are your best bet for finding legal riding areas. No matter where you live, there are likely to be ATV enthusiasts near you who can help you find places to ride. Ask your local dealers if they know of legal places to ride, or any ATV clubs you can join.
2. Check our website at www.atvaonline.com. Click on the “Riding” button and you will find places to ride in various states as well as a members-only trail database.
3. Every issue of ATV News features a “Where To Ride” story that profiles some of the best places to ride.
4. When considering riding areas, remember that not all riding areas are ideal for beginners. Choose your riding area carefully.
5. You may have local, state or federal public land in your area that allows riding. There, you may find yourself sharing the trails with hikers, horseback riders and others. It’s vital to teach your child to respect both other trail users and the environment.
4 Trail Etiquette Tips
1. Stay on the trail. Riding off the trail negatively impacts sensitive plant and animal species and harms the environment. It’s also a safety issue because there could be hidden hazards off the trail.
2. Watch for two-way traffic and be courteous to other trail users. Ride slowly around corners and when you encounter others, leave plenty of room to pass. If you encounter horses, it’s a good idea to pull off the trail, stop and shut off your motor.
3. Teach your child to be very careful around water crossings. Sometimes trails hold standing water after heavy rains, and mud holes can be deep. Cross streams only at designated crossing areas.
4. It is extremely important that your machines have quiet exhaust systems with U. S. Forest-Service-approved spark arresters. Be aware that if there is a fire caused by your machine, you could be liable for causing the blaze, which could cost millions of dollars to fight.
6 Getting-Ready-To-Ride Tips
1. Before heading out for a ride, make sure your child’s ATV works properly. Check the owner’s manual for a detailed pre-ride checklist and go through it the night before. Start the ATV to be sure it is in good operating condition.
2. The night before is also a good time to gather up the things you and your child will need for the outing and load them, if possible. Have your child practice gearing up so that he or she can do so easily in the morning.
3. A good night’s sleep is vital so that everyone is energetic and in a good mood for the ride.
4. Things to take for the trip include a first-aid kit, snacks such as bananas, apples, granola bars and crackers, and plenty of juice and water.
5. Considering bringing coloring books or videogames to keep your child occupied during the drive to the riding area. Towels and extra water are also good things to have on hand for spills or emergency clean ups.
6. It’s easy to overlook something. You can involve your child in the trip planning by having a checklist of the things you need to take and then having him or her check them off the list while you supervise.
4 Tips For Taking Along Your Child’s Friends
1. Your child’s friends may be ATV riders and want to come along for a ride. ATV riding involves risks so you need to take special care when bringing other children along.
2. Know the rules of the other parents. If they won’t let their children ride on difficult trails, you shouldn’t either. A good rule of thumb is to always enforce the strictest rule for all the children present.
3. Know the rules where you ride. Many private riding areas won’t let a minor ride without a signed, notarized liability release from both parents. In fact, some won’t let a minor ride without a parent or legal guardian present. Find out before you go.
4. Keeping all the kids safe is your primary responsibility. Be sure you know how to contact other parents in case of an emergency.