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Today’s ATVs, equipped with features like power steering and electric starters, are as easy to operate as cars. Utility Task Vehicles (UTVs) offer SUV-like comfort and capacity for larger loads and more passengers. While similar in function, both ATVs and UTVs are built for off-road use, requiring common sense, caution, and environmental respect.

To help ensure your safety while riding on ATV and UTV trails, we outline four tips to follow for safe and practical ATV and UTV operations.

Be Accommodating and Considerate

Observing trail etiquette is crucial, especially when sharing public off-road spaces with other riders. While private property may afford solitary trails, public areas demand consideration from fellow enthusiasts. Practicing basic courtesy ensures everyone’s safety and enjoyment. Remember to yield to descending traffic to maintain their momentum, signal your intention to pass, and slow down when being overtaken. Keep to the right side of the trail to accommodate others and avoid assuming a trail’s openness solely based on tracks. You should also refrain from stopping in hazardous locations such as the middle of the trail, at hill crests, or around blind corners to prevent accidents and maintain a smooth riding experience for all.

Navigate Slopes Cautiously

It’s important to handle slopes with caution to safely navigate steep terrain. There are specific steps to follow to ascend and descend hills securely. When driving uphill while seated, adjust your position forward to align your torso with the front wheels or handlebars. Initiate the climb in a lower gear, gradually increasing the throttle to maintain momentum. When descending, shift your weight backward, engage a lower gear, maintain a slow speed, and apply brakes gently to descend safely. These practices ensure a controlled approach to managing slopes while riding your ATV or UTV.

Maintain a Slow Speed After Dark

Preparing for hunting in the early morning darkness of fall and winter necessitates caution to ensure a safe journey to your blind or tree stand. Avoid overdriving your headlights, ensuring you can stop within the beam’s 200-foot range. Confirm headlights are clean and operational, stick to familiar paths, and carry emergency signaling tools like flares or flashlights. Enhance visibility by wearing reflective apparel and prioritize safety during your pre-dawn ventures into the woods.

Steer Clear of Paved Roads

Simply having four wheels on your ATV or UTV doesn’t ensure safety on paved roads. It’s best to stick to trails, which offer a more enjoyable riding experience and are safer for several reasons. ATV or UTV tires are specifically designed for off-road use, with low pressure and deep grooves for enhanced traction. Pavement can significantly affect handling, potentially resulting in accidents if driven too fast. Moreover, many local and state laws prohibit the operation of off-road vehicles on public roads, further emphasizing the importance of staying off paved surfaces for ATV or UTV riders.

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