Ride Safe This Summer: Take An ATV Safety Course

 As summer approaches, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) encourages all ATV/UTV riders to complete an ATV safety certification course before they hit the trails.

Although a safety course is recommended for riders of all ages, Wisconsin law requires ATV and UTV operators born on or after Jan. 1, 1988, who are at least 12 years old for an ATV (and at least 16 years old for UTV) must complete an ATV safety certification course to operate in Wisconsin (exception: on private property owned by operator’s immediate family).

These safety courses can be taken online or in person and are the first step in preventing crashes. A list of approved safety education classes is available on the DNR Safety Education webpage.

In 2023, there were nearly 300 ATV/UTV crashes in Wisconsin. So far there have already been 12 fatal crashes in the state this year.

Inexperience and lack of education are among the top contributing factors in injury crashes. That’s according to Lt. Warden Jacob Holsclaw, DNR Off-Highway Vehicle Administrator. He says, “Too often we see people who’ve never taken ATV safety. They end up in a bad situation because they were never taught the basics of safe operation. Additionally, folks should take extra caution when operating on paved surfaces like road routes. The handling characteristics of UTVs and ATVs change significantly on pavement. Be extra careful, especially when slowing down and approaching turns.”

Crashes can happen to anyone. Always follow basic off-road vehicle safety to mitigate the risk of a crash or fatal incident. This includes staying sober, wearing a helmet, using a UTV seatbelt and taking an ATV safety course.

Some additional things to keep in mind when operating your recreational vehicle include:

  • Never consume alcohol or drugs before or during your ride.
  • Do not travel in unfamiliar areas.
  • Follow all posted speed limits and regulatory signs.
  • Let someone not riding with you know where you are going and when you will return.

Should an incident occur while out on the trails, Wisconsin law requires every operator involved in a crash incident to report the incident without delay to law enforcement officials. Additionally, the operator must submit a written report to the DNR within 10 days of the incident.

For more information on ATV and UTV recreation in Wisconsin, visit the DNR’s ATV/UTV riding in Wisconsin webpage.