Session 7:
The All-Terrain Vehicle

At the end of this session you will be able to:

  • Understand the safety issues relating to ATVs
  • Understand the age restrictions and laws relating to the use of ATVs
  • Select the correct PPEs to wear when operating an ATV


Quad bikes and All-Terrain Vehicles (ATV) are becoming part of everyday farming but, like any piece of machinery, it’s not the quad bike that is dangerous, it’s the way it’s handled!

So, before you hop on and start up your ATV, take the time to get to know the vehicle, know your limits and know the dangers.

There is no one cause of all ATV accidents.

Many incidents involve the negligence or recklessness of the driver or another person nearby.

Causes of ATV accidents include drunk driving, to speeding recklessly, to unsuitable terrain, to vehicle rollover; the list goes on and on.

These accidents are also caused by less obvious reasons, such as poor maintenance or exceeding the carrying capacity on the ATV. ATVs in light agricultural use are designed to hold the operator, and the operator only.

ATV Hazards

ATV are designed to cope with a wide variety of terrain types, including steep slopes, but if used outside their safe operating parameters they can very rapidly become unstable. The main causes of serious or fatal injury associated with ATVs are from:

  • being thrown off during vehicle overturns or after loss of control;
  • collisions with structures, trees, other vehicles etc;
  • being trapped/asphyxiated under an overturned machine;
  • pedestrians being struck or run over by ATVs.

ATV Operating Rules

It is illegal for ATVs to be driven for work by children under 13. It is also illegal to carry a child as a passenger.

Any weight added above the centre of gravity will decrease the ATV’s stability, e.g. feed hoppers/dispensers fixed above the rear rack.

Discuss the risks regularly with the whole team, and train everyone in safe working methods, and emergency procedures.

Make sure everyone carries a mobile phone with them and have the relevant emergency information and emergency contact numbers programmed into them.  Keep the mobile phone with you.

Children under 16 must not drive, operate, or help to operate ATVs.


  • Fuel - If the ATV has been lying around unused for several months, you should drain the tank and refill with fresh fuel.
  • Tyres - As well as ensuring your tyres are at the right pressure for the terrain and have good treads, it is always a good idea to check for nails in the sidewall.
  • Brakes - It may be stating the obvious, but being able to stop your ATV is a good safety tip. Brake pads should never be metal to metal. Check pad wear as the pad needs to be at the very minimum, 1/8 inch thick for a light day of riding.
  • Oil - Check the oil level before each ride. Looking at the fluid on the dipstick can tell you how much you've got and if it is fit for use or not.
  • Steering - Be sure to look over the steering connections to the wheels. The tie rods are wearable and if one breaks loose, you could be left with just one wheel controlling your fate.
  • Grips - Having control of your ATV is obviously essential, so if the grips are falling apart then replace them.

Correct Equipment

  • Wear clothing that covers your arms and legs. Gloves are useful for protection and handlebar muffs can help to keep hands warm in cold weather for good control of the ATV.
  • Wear sturdy, ankle-covering footwear, e.g. boots or wellingtons that are strong, supportive and have good wet grip and high visibility clothing (helps to locate you from the air if you do fall off);
  • Riding an ATV requires a lot of body movement so do some warm up stretches to help prevent muscle strain;
  • Protect your eyes from insects and branches with either a visor or goggles and always wear a helmet.


  • Safe Stop – Handbrake on, controls in neutral, engine off and remove keys!
  • You should always wear a helmet when riding an ATV.
  • Always plan your route and check ground stability.
  • One seat = One bottom. Passengers are not allowed to travel on ATVs used as light agricultural vehicles.
  • Always ride at a safe speed and know your limits.