ATV Passenger Safety Tips
Sharing ATV rides with friends and family can be a lot of fun, but you’ll want to keep safety in mind to make sure it stays that way for everybody involved.
Most ATVs aren’t made for carrying passengers, and you’re better off with a side-by-side if you want to bring people along for your offroad riding adventures. However, you can enjoy having passengers riding along on a two-seater ATV, but a passenger can interfere with the driver’s ability to maintain control. With that in mind, here are some ATV passenger safety tips.
Get a Two-Seater ATV
As already mentioned, most ATVs aren’t built for use by more than one person at a time. For starters, single-rider ATVs have a shorter wheelbase, which makes them less stable and harder to control with passengers onboard. They also don’t offer a place for passengers to sit, nor something to grab onto or rest their feet.
A passenger with nothing to grip onto and nowhere to rest their feet comfortably can’t properly shift their weight the way the driver does, which is crucial for weight distribution. So never carry a passenger on an ATV that wasn’t designed for two people, as proper weight distribution is essential to preventing the four-wheeler from tipping over or crashing.
While a single-rider ATV can have an aftermarket passenger seat installed, the manufacturer’s intended single-person design can have its stability compromised with the added weight in the back. Also, keep in mind that ATVs with large cargo capacities doesn’t make them safer for two-person use just because they’re wider. If you intend to bring passengers along when you buy an ATV, get a dedicated two-seater with a longer wheelbase, and proper seating and footrests for the passenger to ride safely on the quad.
ATV Safety Tips: Before the Ride
Prepare Your Passengers
Before taking on a passenger, make sure he or she knows they have to hold firmly onto the handholds during the entire ride, and to never stick their limbs or head out while the vehicle is in motion.
The only time your passenger should stick their arms out, if any, is to help you signal to other riders behind you. Teach your passenger hand signals for turning, slowing down and stopping, but otherwise make sure they know that unless you need them to signal, they should hold the grab handles during the entire ride and keep their feet firmly planted on the footrests.
Make Space for Their Stuff
Before you take off, make sure there’s enough storage space for your passenger’s stuff as well as your own. Make room in your ATV’s storage compartments to keep all personal items securely stowed, and make sure you have enough supplies for both of you, especially if you’re going camping or on long trips.
Know the obstacles of any path you’re going to take, and make sure both you and your passenger have the proper-fitting protective gear from dust, debris and potential crashes.
ATV Safety Tips: During the Ride
Mounting and Seating
When mounting up with a passenger on an ATV, the driver should hop on the ATV first, start it up, put on the parking brake and then have the passenger get on.
When the passenger is seated, he or she must be able to sit comfortably in the upright position, then grab the handholds and plant their feet firmly on the footrests. Make sure your passenger stays seated at all times to keep the ATV’s center of gravity as low as possible, and doesn’t stand up until the four-wheeler is parked.
Mind Your Passenger
It’s important that your passenger can maintain a firm grip, so always make sure they’re comfortable, alert, sober and hydrated. Always ride at your passengers’ pace, not your own. In other words, don’t ride at a speed they can’t handle.
Make sure your passenger knows to mimic your movements while you’re driving. So when you shift your body weight to maneuver the vehicle, your passenger must do the same. If you lean in one direction to turn the ATV or to go uphill, your passenger must mirror that movement. Keep in mind that the weight of the ATV is different with two people onboard, so the quad will handle differently.
If you come across a large obstacle such as a fallen tree, stop the ATV and have your passenger dismount before you get past that obstacle. Also, have your passenger dismount before you tackle any advanced maneuvers, cross a road or do anything tricky that requires a high level of skill.
Avoid Tipping Over
Having a passenger on your ATV increases the risk of tipping or rolling over, since the added weight can make the quad unstable. This is why the passenger should never counter the driver’s movements, as the uneven weight distribution can lead to an accident.
If you feel the ATV is about to tip over, both you and your passenger should lean toward the side that’s lifting up to weigh down that side, and both of you should jump off the quad if it’s going to roll or tip over to avoid getting crushed by the machine.
Riding With Children
If you’re going to bring a kid along, never ride the ATV with the child sitting in front of you, as it endangers both you and the child.
A child riding upfront can not only be tempted to play with the controls on the ATV while you’re driving, but can also distract you from operating the four-wheeler safely.