ATVs can provide hours of fun during long summer days away from the classroom. They are one of the most popular outdoor activities, giving riders access to a wide variety of landscapes from basic trails to complex rugged terrain.

They can also result in serious and even fatal injuries if not used properly or if safety guidelines are ignored.

The Importance of ATV Safety

“The vast majority of ATV injuries we’ve seen were the result of improper use of the vehicle,” said Kristy Nelson, Columbus Community Hospital’s director of nursing. “Whether it’s too much speed or too many riders on one vehicle, these injuries can be serious and happen quickly.”

ATV safety is vital for both parents and young adults to understand. While proper safety gear like helmets and pants is important, the main cause of ATV injuries is the result of rollovers–– easily preventable by adhering to basic ATV safety guidelines.

“ATV safety isn’t as simple as just wearing a helmet,” said Dr. Rosemary Buckle, orthopedist at Columbus Community Hospital. “Helmets don’t prevent ATVs from flipping or rolling over and landing on someone. It’s important for the community to understand how to use these vehicles safely and responsibly.”

As an orthopedic surgeon, Dr. Buckle has treated many ATV injuries that range from arm and leg injuries to serious traumatic hip and pelvic injuries, some of which have been fatal.

“There are serious risks associated with using ATVs in ways they weren’t meant to be used. Good ATV safety doesn’t mean less fun.”


Dr. Rosemary Buckle

Orthopedic Surgeon

“As a mother and a surgeon, I recognize the importance of safety education and training when using ATVs, four wheelers, and other powered vehicles out on our ranches and farms,” Dr. Buckle said. “Teenagers don’t always understand that they aren’t invincible and there are serious risks associated with using ATVs in ways they weren’t meant to be used. Good ATV safety doesn’t mean less fun.”

Tips for ATV Safety

The ATV Safety institute publishes a variety of ATV safety guidelines and tips. Among them are what it calls the ATV Golden Rules, which include:

  • Always wear a DOT-compliant helmet, goggles, long sleeves, long pants, over-the-ankle boots, and gloves.
  • Ride only on designated trails and at a safe speed.
  • Never ride on paved roads except to cross when done safely and permitted by law.
  • Never ride under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
  • Never carry a passenger on a single-rider ATV, and no more than one passenger on an ATV specifically designed for two people.
  • Supervise riders younger than 16.
  • Adherence to these guidelines can prevent ATV injuries and ensure that everyone using ATVs has a fun and safe riding experience.