Ride Safe This Weekend

The Wisconsin DNR urges youth users of recreational vehicles and their parents to operate responsibly, including on private lands.

Fatal crashes happen on private lands each year, with one fatal UTV crash on private property already in 2024 and six ATV/UTV fatal crashes on private property in 2023.

Over the last five years, 70 percent of fatal crashes involving operators or passengers under the age of 18 took place on private lands. Lack of helmets, not using seatbelts in UTVs, and inexperience are among the top factors in these crashes.

“Parents and guardians need to stay alert and teach children to ride responsibly by making sure they wear helmets and seatbelts, take an ATV safety course, and get mentorship from an experienced adult,” says Lt. Warden Jacob Holsclaw, DNR Off-Highway Vehicle Administrator.

The same guidelines for helmet and seatbelt use also apply to adults.

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) to complete a safety certification course if riding on public lands, roads or another person’s property with permission. Courses can be taken online or in person.

Youth riders are not required to complete an ATV safety course if riding on property owned by their immediate family, but it’s a good idea to still take one.

Here are a few more safety tips to keep in mind when operating your off-highway vehicles:

  • Remember, no ice is 100% safe. Warmer than usual winter temperatures have created hazardous ice conditions, and extra caution is necessary.
  • Never consume alcohol or drugs before or during your ride.
  • Always wear a DOT-approved helmet.
  • Always wear a seatbelt in a UTV.
  • Do not travel in unfamiliar areas.
  • Let someone not riding with you know where you are going and when you will return.
  • Follow all posted speed limits and regulatory signs.
  • Double-check before operating on trails.

Wisconsin law requires every operator involved in a crash incident to report the incident to law enforcement officials without delay. Operators must submit a written report to the DNR within 10 days of the incident.