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Equip farmers with critical ATV/UTV safety knowledge

January 30, 2024

All-Terrain Vehicles (ATVs) and Utility Task Vehicles (UTVs) are showing up on a lot more farms today. They’re ideal for a lot of common jobs like scouting crops and transporting tools, equipment and building materials. The machines can extend the range and capabilities of agricultural workers, making them valuable for everyone from a large farm manager to a grain elevator operator or agronomist.

Also known collectively as off-highway vehicles (OHVs), ATV/UTVs can create hazards and liability for your customers when not operated safely. But following a few basic safety tips can help reduce the number of fatalities from crashes. Safe ATV/UTV operation in agriculture hinges on everyone knowing and abiding by three safety pillars: what’s legal, safe and right for the job.

What’s legal isn’t always safe

What’s legal and what’s safe are not always the same when it comes to operating an ATV or UTV. Laws vary by state, but many do allow licensed drivers to operate the machines on public roadways. Your customers should always prioritize safety whenever they enter a public space like a road on an ATV or UTV.

“People often think that if something is legal, it must be safe. Always be aware of what is permitted by law. Don’t get lulled into safety complacency because something is legal.”

– David Russell, Nationwide Powersports Product Manager

Farmers and ranchers can build an ATV/UTV safety culture by ensuring their workforce knows the laws, regulations and safety fundamentals. Then, they can identify ways to build on those fundamentals to make sure anyone operating the machines is working safely.

Safe ATV/UTV operation

Smart, safe ATV/UTV operation is a combination of:

  • The right safety equipment
  • Awareness of laws and regulations
  • Know-how on responsible operator behavior
  • Common sense

Advise customers to make a practice of keeping their machines off public roadways whenever possible and travel at a safe, smart speed. Any agricultural employer should instruct all workers to follow this rule without exception.

“Operators may drive the speed limit on the way to work. Then they’ll hop on an ATV/UTV inside a machine shop or storage building and tear out the door at an unsafe speed because they have work to get done. Especially with the power of many of today’s ATVs/UTVs, that kind of operator behavior can turn tragic in a hurry.”

– Brian Hammer, Nationwide Sr. Risk Management Consultant

The right vehicle for the job

Hammer recommends training every member of a farm or ranch workforce before turning a wheel on an ATV or UTV. It’s important to make sure all operators have the right vehicle to do their jobs and are prepared to do them responsibly. That includes knowing the machines’ capabilities so they can make safe operating decisions.

Understand how accessories will affect speed and maneuverability. A sprayer and tanks may make a machine top-heavy and prone to rollovers. Components like brakes, tires, suspension, safety belts and even signal lights are not held to the same safety standards as cars and trucks. Make sure they’re pairing man and machine the right way. Never underestimate the importance of common sense.

“Do you need a turbocharged engine? Maybe, maybe not. Though you may need extra power for certain on-the-job tasks, the most important thing to understand is what ATV/UTV you need for your job and what you’re buying, including what’s under the hood.”

– David Russell, Nationwide Powersports Product Manager

Become an ATV/UTV safety champion for your customers

Make sure every customer is creating a culture of safety around the machines’ use on farms and ranches. Start the conversation with customers today. That way, they’re informed and doing everything they can to ensure safe, productive ATV/UTV use in their businesses.