Farm Ireland

Saturday 24 March 2018

10 steps to save your life on a quad (besides wearing a helmet)

Stock pic
Stock pic
Derek Casey

Derek Casey

Besides the obvious (wear a helmet), there are some other steps you can take to improve safety while driving an ATV.

1 Understand the accident risks

Non-fatal accidents are not well reported. The underlying causes are usually one or more of the following:

  • Lack of structured training and/or experience;
  • Excessive speed;
  • Carrying a passenger or an unbalanced load;
  • Tipping on a bank, ditch, rut or bump;
  • A steep slope combined with other factors, e.g. ground or load conditions;
  • Towing excessive loads with un-braked equipment.

2 Training

Training is vital and is literally a matter of life and death. ATVs should only be ridden by users over the age of 16 and who have received appropriate training in their safe use, including the use of any towed equipment or attachments.

Don't give in to pressure from children to operate ATVs. Educate them about the countless injuries ATVS have caused on Irish farms.

3 Protective clothing

More than half of all ATV riders have been thrown off at some time. There is no roll bar, so your only protection is what you wear.

Also Read

Head protection is vital. At present a motorcycle helmet is recommended.

Wear clothing which is strong and covers your arms and legs.

Gloves are useful for protection and to keep hands warm in cold weather for good control of the ATV.

Wear wellingtons that are strong and have good grips.

4 Passengers

Never carry a passenger on an ATV. The long seat is for operators to shift their body weight backwards and forwards for different slope conditions, not for carrying passengers.

You should not carry a passenger in a trailer behind an ATV, as any movement will make the machine unstable.

5 Maintenance

Off-road riding is hard on an ATV so it is essential to carry out maintenance according to the manufacturer's recommendations. Tyre pressures should be check daily as only a one-psi difference in pressure can cause vehicle control problems.

Check that the brakes give a safe straight stop and that the throttle operates smoothly in all steering positions.

6 Safe driving methods

When cornering, weight should be transferred to the inside of the turn. When riding across a slope, keep your weight on the uphill side of the ATV. When going downhill, slide your weight backwards and select a low gear, reducing the need to use the brakes.

When going uphill, move your weight forwards and maintain a steady speed.

Avoid sudden increases in speed, as this is a common cause of rearward overturning accidents, even from a standing start on flat ground where there is good grip.

7 Route Planning

Over rough terrain, get to know your own ground and stick to planned routes where possible. Walk new routes if necessary to check for hidden obstructions. When selecting routes, allow for changes to the surface and weather conditions and for any loads and attachments.

8 Loads

Ensure all riders know the manufacturer's recommended towing capacity and drawbar loading limit. Remember that your ability to control the ATV by your body movements will be considerably reduced when carrying a load or towing a trailer.

9 Using sprayers

You are more likely to be exposed to spray drift on an ATV than on a tractor, so a tractor should be used whenever possible.

Where an ATV is used, then attention to safety features is especially important when buying a sprayer and when spraying, particularly with mounted sprayers where the boom is close to you and contamination more likely.

When buying a sprayer, look for a low centre of gravity and internal baffles to reduce liquid surge which will improve stability when turning on slopes.

10 Road use

Manufacturers of certain ATVs may indicate that their ATVs are not suitable for use on the public roadway. You should therefore establish that your ATV is suitable for road use before taking it out onto the public road.

Should an ATV go onto a public roadway, it will be deemed to be a non-agricultural tractor and subject to road tax.

It will also have to comply with the structural requirements of a non-agricultural tractor, i.e. rollover protection, tractor mudguards, horn, braking and lighting requirements.

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