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All-Terrain Vehicles (ATVs)

ATV safety

All-terrain vehicles (ATVs, also called quads) are motorized vehicles made to drive on dirt roads, off-road, and on marked dirt trails. Riding ATVs is a popular activity in Alberta. They can also be used for farming, working, or driving in rural and remote areas. 

Children and ATVs

Children younger than 16 years old should never ride ATVs. Riders younger than 16 years old are at a higher risk of injury than adults. However, injury prevention experts have developed safety recommendations for children under 16 years old if they do ride ATVs.

Injuries from ATVs

ATVs come in different weights and sizes. They usually have a high centre of gravity and a narrow, short wheelbase. This means they can tip easily and can throw riders off. Most deaths from ATV accidents happen when the ATV rolls or flips. The most common injuries from riding an ATV happen when:

  • riders are thrown off the ATV
  • riders are trapped under a tipped ATV
  • collisions
Around 15 Albertans die every year from ATV accidents.

Some ATVs are being made safer and more stable. But there are always risks when you ride an ATV. Some activities that can increase the risk of injury include:
  • riding after using alcohol or drugs
  • going faster than the speed limit
  • going up or down steep hills
  • riding on paved roads or highways
  • riding in areas you don’t know well
  • doing stunts or tricks
  • being distracted (talking on the phone, texting, talking to others, or not watching the path)​

Be a responsible rider

These tips can lower your risk of getting hurt when you ride an ATV.

  • Ride sober. Never use alcohol or drugs before or while riding an ATV.
  • Don’t carry more riders than the ATV is made to carry.
  • Keep your ATV in good repair. Make sure it has a working headlight, taillight, muffler, and brakes.
  • Ride during daylight hours on marked dirt trails. Avoid paved trails and highways. 
  • Respect everyone on the trails, such as animals and people hiking, riding bicycles, and on horseback.
  • Obey posted signs and stay on the trails. Going off marked trails can be dangerous. There may be ditches, drop-offs, cliffs, or trees.
  • Know the local weather before you ride.

Wear protective gear

  • Wear an approved motorcycle or ATV helmet. This is the law in Alberta​. Head injuries are often the cause of death in ATV accidents. Choose a helmet that fits well. Fasten it securely.
  • Use eye protection, such as a helmet shield or riding goggles. Regular sunglasses won’t protect your eyes.
  • Wear clothing that will protect you. This includes jackets, full length pants, gloves and boots or other proper footwear.

Learn skills​​​

    ​​Take a course from a trained instructor. The Canada Safety Council​ offers ATV rider courses that train you use controls
  • ​use controls 
  • ride terrain
  • turn
  • climb hills

References

Alberta Health Services, Analytics. (2023). [Dashboard of injuries in Alberta. Alberta Injury Surveillance (workbook).​]​

Current as of: November 2, 2023

Author: Provincial Injury Prevention, Alberta Health Services