4 wheeler ATV safety is incredibly important for anyone, including adults, so they riding experience is fun and safe. After decades of riding and raising kids that ride, I have learned some of the most important things to go over with them. My boys all seemed to follow similar patterns as they rode, and I assume yours will as well. I will go over the things I observed them doing over the years, the equipment you need to stay safe, and some additional information you might find important as you teach your kids or fellow adults all about 4 wheeler ATV safety.
Certified ATV Safety Courses
I highly suggest them, even for adults. While it might seem odd to be a full-grown adult and go through a class with a bunch of kids, it can really make an impact on you. Two of my three sons have gone through the courses now, with the youngest not quite yet old enough to attend. As a result, they reinforced much of what I taught them in the class. They displayed a noticeable difference in the level of safety they displayed while riding the trails and even in the backyard. You can find four wheeler safety courses online as well, which are a very convenient way to learn.
Dangerous Things Kids Do
I would like to share with you some of the things I notice all of my children do from time to time and what I do to help combat it. These are especially important of kids that are not old enough to attend the courses in person yet.
Turning Too Sharp: This is one of the most common mistakes young kids make when riding, but it is also fairly easy to correct. Four wheelers do not turn on a dime. You must allow proper room to complete the turn. The slower you are going, the less area you will need to complete the turn.
Start out by setting up markers for kids that force them to turn somewhat sharply at first, only allowing them to go very slow. Slowly expand the area for turning and allow them to increase the speed. This will help them realize turning too sharp does not work at high rates of speed and can lead to tipping over.
Not Leaning Into Turns: You have to lean into the turns you take, especially at higher speeds or during sharper turning. This one takes practice, especially with inexperienced four wheeler riders, so be sure to work on it slowly.
To help combat this, use the same markers and have the kids lean into the turn. If they are going left, they lean to the left. If they are struggling, have them do the leaning while stopped, so they can get used to it.
Fast Takeoffs: All kids like to goose it. Just get used to it. This is not good ATV safety and you will run into a lot of trouble getting this habit broken. This is generally one of the most difficult bad habits to cure.
When you try to work on this, use a throttle restrictor. This will only allow the throttle to be pushed so far and limit the high end speed. Without being able to goose it, the carb is not flooded with gasoline and puts out much less power, resulting in slower takeoffs. If driving a shift model, you can simply make the child always start out in second gear. I did this and it worked out well.
Improper Brake Use: There are a couple things kids tend to do wrong with braking. First, they often underestimate the distance they need to stop. In addition, for models with a foot brake especially, they compress it all the way and it skids, which further increases the stopping distance.
To promote 4 wheeler ATV safety with braking, have the kids use long straightaways for practice. Use a marker to show where they need to hit the brakes, using separate tests for hand, foot, and combination braking. Mark the distance when they skid with the rear drum brake and when they do not and compare. Kids need to learn proper braking for good four wheeler safety.
Too Fast Top End: Kids like to go fast and so do adults. I also have one speed when on the trails (without my kids) and that’s honkin’ fast. This one can be curbed, but probably not cured.
Throttle limiters and restrictors are okay when they are young. As they get older and get to be better ATV drivers, you can slowly give them more speed. Personally, I let my kids go pretty fast on the groomed trails with me, where legal, because it takes some of the taboo out of it. On the rough trails or those that are very winded, they quickly learn they cannot go so fast. Set a good example, but make sure they can handle a fast machine. Remember, at some point, they are going to ride without you. If they have been trained at high speeds, at least they will be capable of doing it relatively safely.
Too Fast On Pavement: Many people fail to realize how difficult it is to steer on blacktop and paved roads. Most ATV four wheeler tires are not designed for smooth surfaces. The result is driving a four wheeler that does not handle properly and can tip incredibly easy when on pavement.
To combat this, ride only very slow on the paved trails. At very low rates of speed, have the kids turn. They will quickly see just how funky it is and learn to slow down.
4 Wheeler ATV Safety Follow Up
You always need to follow up with newer riders. It is easy to slip into bad habits. I have my own that I’ve developed over the years and new riders will do the same. You need to make sure you have a good base of training in place, so they are good riders. 4 Wheeler ATV safety is important at all ages.