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Ride Smart: ATV Safety


With summer in full swing, many are heading to the hills and dunes to ride their ATV's. People of all ages, both old and young, are loading up their 4-wheelers and side by sides and heading out to many of the areas that our state has to offer for all-terrain vehicle riding. Unfortunately, those fun family times can turn tragic if simple safety tips are not followed. According to the ATV Safety Institute, if a few important safety tips are adhered to, riders will have a safe and enjoyable time in Utah's outdoors.

  • Wear a helmet: If riders simply wear a properly fitted helmet, their risk for substantial injury is reduced dramatically. In addition to a helmet, other safety gear such as goggles, long sleeves and pants, good boots, and gloves are also recommended to keep riders safe.
  • Don't ride while under the influence of alcohol or drugs: This seems to be common sense, but this is still occurring in Utah's recreation areas. Riders are enjoying alcoholic beverages and then going for a ride. This type of behavior can lead to serious injury or death from an ATV incident. In Utah, this is illegal and you could be fined.
  • Take an approved safety course: If you are under 16 years of age in Utah, all riders are required to complete an approved Utah OHV safety course, and carry the Utah OHV Education Certificate with them while riding on public lands. The Utah Division of Natural Resources, who oversees the ATV education, offers a course that is online, so that riders can not only learn how to ride safely, but also learn the rule and regulations that Utah has.
  • Make sure that your ATV is in proper working order: Check the tires, controls and cables, and brakes to ensure proper working order. The State of Utah Division of Natural Resources has an OHV Safety Checklist on their website.
  • Stay on approved trails and routes: Ride only on approved designated routes and areas designated for ATV usage.

In the recent years, our Trauma Center here at University of Utah Hospital has seen our fair share of ATV injuries. Using data collected from our trauma registry; between the years of 2012-2014 the trauma service treated over 150 patients that had sustained injuries from ATV incidents. One of the most frightening statistics that was found is that nearly 40 percent of those patients did not wear a helmet while riding, resulting in injuries to their head and spine.

Also, injury severity scores from these patients are ranging from moderate to severe, meaning that injuries that patients receive can have long lasting impacts on their health. Those injuries can be very costly not only for insurance companies, but also personally as well.

Many families in Utah enjoy the outdoors on their ATV's. Follow these important safety guidelines so that you or your loved ones do not end up as a trauma patient at University of Utah Hospital. Enjoy your ATV safely, and remember to wear your helmet.