Michigan ATV riding safety and education – Part 1

An introduction to all-terrain vehicle (ATV) safety practices and age requirements in Michigan.

Michigan ATV riding safety and education – Part 1

All-terrain vehicles (ATVs) are off-road motorized vehicles that can ride on various trails and dirt roads. They have steering handlebars and three or four large, low pressure, heavy duty tires, although production of three-wheel ATVs stopped in 1988 due to safety issues. ATV tires are durable and built to get maximum traction. While ATVs are much smaller than cars, they still weigh about 800 pounds, which puts them in the range of a large motorcycle. You need a driver’s license to drive a motorcycle, but you do not need a driver’s license to operate an ATV. ATVs are more accessible and popular with children and teenagers because you do not need a driver’s licenses. Children as young as 6 years old are riding ATVs, which can be very dangerous.

It is important parents and adults understand that children should be educated about the risks and precautions that go along with riding an ATV. ATV education is a way to decrease accidents and increase safe riding practices. Each state has its own laws and age restrictions for riding ATVs. In Michigan, there is a safety education requirement if you are under 16 years old and will be riding on trails or private land. Also, in Michigan no child under the age of 10 may operate an ATV except on private property while performing farm-related tasks.

In Michigan:

Children 10 and 11 years old may operate a four-wheel ATV only when all of the following conditions are met:

  • The ATV is being operated on land owned by the child’s parent or guardian.
  • The operator is under the direct visual supervision of an adult.
  • The operator possesses a valid off-road vehicle (ORV) safety certificate.

Children 12 to 15 years old may operate a four-wheel ATV only when both of the following conditions are met.

  • The operator is under the direct visual supervision of an adult.
  • The operator possesses a valid ORV safety certificate.

Michigan State University Extension’s 4-H Youth Development offers personal safety ATV workshops to educate youth and give them safe ATV riding practices. These workshops are perfect for youth ages 12-16, but do not replace the required ORV safety certificate. The first 4-H ATV Safety Workshop will take place on May 14, 2016, in Sanilac County. Check the MSU Extension Events page for more MSU Extension events in your area.

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