All-terrain vehicle (ATV) safety

PDF download is not available for Arabic and Urdu languages at this time. Please use the browser print function instead

Learn about the safety measures you and your family should consider before driving an all-terrain vehicle (ATV). 

Key points

  • It is not recommended that children under 16 years of age operate an all-terrain vehicle (ATV). 
  • Before riding an ATV, consider taking an ATV training course. 
  • Always wear protective gear (helmets, eye protection, gloves, boots) for every ride.
  • Respect passenger limits: never carry passengers on an ATV designed for solo riders. 

All-terrain vehicles (ATVs)—also called four-wheelers or quads—are four-wheel vehicles that are often used off-road for recreation. They have four low-pressure or airless tires, steering handlebars and a seat designed to be straddled by the driver. While these vehicles are smaller, they should be treated with similar considerations to the cars that are driven on the road. This means that you should similarly receive proper education and training on how to safely ride an ATV, never taking more passengers than the ATV is designed for, and only drive in areas meant for ATVs. 

Most ATV-related deaths occur due to a roll-over or flip, and half of ATV-related deaths involve alcohol or drugs. Common injuries caused by ATVs include traumatic brain injuries, solid organ injuries (such as injuries to the liver or spleen) and limb fractures. Children and youth are at a greater risk to ATV-related injuries, as they may not have the strength, knowledge, and skill to safely operate an ATV. 

Safety gear 

Before riding an ATV, always wear the required protective equipment. All equipment should fit the rider properly and be in good working condition. 

Safety gear for ATV’s includes: 

  • A helmet that meets the standards required for motorcycles. Helmets designed for other activities, such as bicycle and hockey helmets, are not designed to protect ATV riders. 
  • Eye protection, such as googles or a face shield/visor.
  • Gloves, boots, long-sleeve shirts and pants, which can protect from burns, scrapes and cuts. 

Age limits

Talk to your child(ren) about the responsibilities that come with driving an ATV. These are vehicles, not toys, and should be treated with caution. Each province has their own regulations; however, the Canadian Paediatric Society recommends that drivers of ATVs should be at least 16 years of age. Children younger than 16 years of age do not possess the necessary skills or mental maturity to safely handle ATVs of any size. There is a lack of evidence showing that youth-sized ATVs prevent injuries in drivers under 16 years of age. 

Children and youth should always be supervised by an adult when operating ATVs.

Children that are around ATVs regularly, such as in rural and remote communities, should be taught about ATV safety as a passenger and a pedestrian. Talk to your child(ren) about ATV safety gear, passenger limits, and the importance of respecting age recommendations for drivers. Enrolling them in an ATV safety course can also help provide additional information that is age appropriate. 

Passenger limits 

ATVs must be used how they are designed. This includes never exceeding the number of passengers that the ATV is designed to carry. When passenger limits are exceeded, there is an increased risk for tipping or having passengers ejected from the ATV.  

Driving habits 

While driving an ATV, be mindful of speed. Increased speed can lead to more serious injuries in the event of a fall, collision or roll. Younger riders should not use ATVs that have high speeds. Certain ATVs can have a maximum speed limit set to prevent high speeds. 

ATVs should also be properly sized to their driver. Drivers should be able to reach their foot pegs and handles, and be able to sit down fully.

Drivers should never use alcohol or drugs before or during the operation of an ATV. 

Provincial regulations 

Each province in Canada has set their own regulations for helmet use and mandatory ATV training courses. A full list of provincial regulations can be found in Parachute’s ATV Legislation Chart.  

While many provincial regulations are only applicable on public land, it is important to remember that the risks associated with ATVs exist on private land as well. It is recommended that safety measures—such as the use of helmets, respecting age limits on drivers, and following passenger limits—should always be considered. 

Last updated: ਜੂਨ 24th 2024