• With spring here, it is a good time to discuss ATV safety, says MU Extension health and safety specialist Karen Funkenbusch. ATVs are popular on farms for ease in checking animals and crops as well as for recreational purposes. (Stock photo.)

COLUMBIA, Mo. – Spring and riding ATVs seem to go together. However, ATV accidents can lead to tragedy when precautions are not followed, says University of Missouri Extension health and safety specialist Karen Funkenbusch.

ATVs can offer hours of fun in the days ahead when riders observe safety rules. She says it is important to teach young riders rules of the road and to teach by example.

ATVs have no center of gravity or roll bars. Traveling at speeds of up to 65 miles per hour, they can tip easily and throw passengers. Riding in rural areas require special precautions. Keep in mind that ATVs often are ridden in areas that may have limited cellphone service and may be difficult to reach by emergency vehicles.

Prepare for the unexpected, Funkenbusch says. Carry a first-aid kit, flashlight, toolkit and supply of water on your ATV.

Funkenbusch offers these rules:

• Wear a Department of Transportation-compliant helmet, over-the-ankle boots and gloves. Never ride bareheaded or barefoot. The state of Missouri requires helmets for those under 18 years of age.

• Know and observe rules of the road, including turn signals.

• Avoid riding on paved roads because another vehicle could hit you. Most ATV fatalities occur on paved roads. Missouri laws prohibit use except for government, agriculture or industrial on-premises purposes between sunrise and sunset with stipulations.

• Never ride under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

• Choose the right size of ride for the passenger.

• Supervise young riders. Children under 16 are not allowed to operate an ATV unless accompanied by a parent or on the parent’s property.

• Check your ATV’s tires, wheels, controls and lights before you ride. Make sure you have adequate fuel so you don’t get stranded in an isolated area.

• Speed must not exceed 45 miles per hour.

• A triangular safety display must be on the vehicle at least 2 feet above the road.

To sign up for an e-learning ATV safety course, go to the ATV Safety Institute website at To see more information about Missouri laws, go to

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