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ATVs (a.k.a. All-Terrain Vehicles, a.k.a. quads) can be a ton of fun to ride. Racing through ATV trails is exhilarating as the engine roars and the trees, grass, and/or dirt rush by.

However, as fun as riding an ATV can be, it can also be incredibly dangerous. Getting into an accident on an ATV can be extra deadly since these things don’t have seat belts, roll cages, or many of the other safety features found in cars and trucks.

To help you avoid an accident while riding your ATV through some of the trails in Brooksville Florida and the surrounding areas, here are a few safety tips you can follow:

1: Check Your ATV Before and After Each Ride

Taking a close look at your ATV before and after each ride is crucial for your safety.ATVs tend to have a lot of exposed components, and are subjected to some hefty abuse during a ride. It’s all too easy for a critical cable, wire, or sprocket to get damaged or disconnected by an impact without you noticing the problem right away.

Damage to ATV components could impair your control over the vehicle, leading to an accident.

So, before taking your ATV out for a ride, take some time to carefully check the following:

  • Tires. Are the tires worn out? Is there uneven wear in the treads? Any foreign bodies embedded in the rubber?
  • Chains. Are links worn out or out of place? Have the chains been properly lubricated?
  • Controls. Are the connections and cables intact and connected properly? Are any gauges or indicators cracked?
  • Sprockets/Gears. Are there broken teeth? Is there excessive grit or mud on the gears?
  • Headlights. Make sure the headlights are functioning. While you shouldn’t ride in the dark, headlights can help make you more visible at all times.

Checking these components of your ATV prior to taking it out for a spin is critical to your safety.

2: NEVER Ride Under the Influence of Alcohol or Drugs

You shouldn’t drink and drive on the road, and you definitely shouldn’t do it when you’re riding an ATV. Being intoxicated impairs your judgement, reaction time, and your senses—all of which can massively increase your risk of getting into an accident.

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, “for patients over 15 who were tested, 35% were positive for alcohol and 25% for drugs.” That means that over half of all ATV accident victims were driving while impaired.

Additionally, you shouldn’t ride an ATV while you’re tired. If you feel exhausted while riding, take a break as soon as possible.

3: Ride On Designated Trails

While trailblazing through unmarked woods sounds exciting, your safest option is to stick to a designated riding trail.

Not only does this help you avoid getting lost, riding trails have been specifically cleared of many dangerous obstacles that could cause you to get bucked from your ride. Also, riding trails have better visibility than wooded areas, helping to further increase safety for yourself and other riders.

Roads designed for regular motor vehicles, especially highways, should be avoided altogether while on an ATV.

4: Don’t Be a Showoff!

Making jumps and doing stunts looks awesome, but it dramatically increases your risk of wrecking your quad.When you’re racing down the trail and the adrenaline’s pumping through your veins, it can be really tempting to start showing off your riding skills by doing stunts (a.k.a. goon riding).

However, trying to do tricks and stunts is something that’s best left to professionals driving in a controlled setting.

Things such as going too fast, popping wheelies, taking your hands off the controls, and shifting your balance too much can all cause you to lose control over the vehicle and get into a wreck.

5: Wear Your Safety Gear

Even when you stick to a designated ATV trail, there’s no telling what kind of hazards you could run into. A previous rider could have accidentally dug out a divot into the path, or a swarm of insects could fly into your face (such as Florida’s infamous love bugs), or high winds could blow tree branches in your path.

Safety gear helps to protect you against injury when dirt, rocks, and other objects are flying through the air—or when you get thrown from your ride. This includes, but is not limited to:

  • Helmets. Head protection is a must for ATV riding. Riding helms should cover your entire head and include a visor for protecting your eyes from flying debris.
  • Gloves. Thick padded gloves reduce the risk of injury to your hands and wrists.
  • Boots. Strong, impact-resistant footwear helps keep your feet safe during a spill and prevent laceration from contact with foliage.
  • Jackets. While not required, it is a good idea to wear a tough jacket to protect your upper body from impacts. Many high-quality ATV safety jackets include reinforced plates for the chest, back, and shoulders.
  • Pants. Once again, while not strictly required, you should wear thick protective coverings for your legs. Blue jeans are good, but reinforced sportswear with protective padding for your shins and knees is better.

Most safety regulations mandate the use of helmets with goggles, gloves, and boots as the minimum required for ATV riding.

6: Brings Friends, But Don’t Ride Double on ATVs

Bringing friends to go ATV riding with you is a great idea. Having extra people along helps ensure that if something does happen, there will be someone to call emergency services and provide aid. Also, they can help call out if you’re riding too dangerously.

However, bringing friends doesn’t mean having them share a spot on your ATV. Unless your ATV is designed for two, you should never have a passenger on your vehicle. A second rider not only puts extra strain on the ATV’s suspension, it makes it more difficult to balance during turns.

We hope that this list of safety tips helps you enjoy your ATV riding hobbies more safely in Brooksville, Florida. Special thanks to motorsport.com for the inspiration for this list.

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