Warmer Weather – More ATVs On The Road

Photo by Wisconsin DNR.

The Wisconsin DNR urges users of all recreational vehicles to be mindful of safety in this year’s changing conditions.

With climbing temperatures across the state, many ATV/UTV riders are using Wisconsin’s trails. However, a lack of snow doesn’t necessarily mean trails are safe. Changing conditions, including rain, snow melt, and freezing fog, make surfaces slippery – especially roadways. Off-road vehicles may have excellent traction on dirt tracks and overland trails, but not on wet or frozen winter roads. 

“The tread on these machines causes them to handle differently than a car or truck on wet paved roads,” says Lt. Warden Jacob Holsclaw, Off-Highway Vehicle Administrator. “Take extra time slowing down and be careful approaching corners or taking turns.”

There has already been one fatal ATV/UTV crash and two snowmobile crashes that resulted in three fatalities in the state in 2024. Drive slow and sober, and wear a helmet to help protect yourself and others on Wisconsin’s trails. The consumption of alcohol or drugs, excess speed, and operator error are all leading causes of fatal crashes. 

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

  • Never consume alcohol or drugs before or during your ride.
  • Always wear a DOT-approved helmet.
  • Always wear a seatbelt in a UTV.
  • 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. Many trails open to ATVs/UTVS are closed during winter in anticipation of snowmobile season.

Wisconsin law requires 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. The exception is on private property owned by the operator’s immediate family.

State law also 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.

Learn more: https://dnr.wisconsin.gov/topic/atv