The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources is encouraging ATV and UTV operators to brush up on safe practices as the nation heads into the Labor Day holiday. So far in 2020 there have been 23 fatal ATV and UTV incidents, compared to 14 in 2019.
Operators of all-terrain vehicles and utility-terrain vehicles should know the state laws and proven safety practices before enjoying any of Wisconsin’s designated trails and routes.
“Labor Day weekend is expected to be a busy time on our trails and road routes as many celebrate this final weekend of summer,” said Lt. Martin R. Stone, Off-Highway Vehicle Administrator for the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources’ Bureau of Law Enforcement, in a news release. “We want everyone to enjoy themselves and to return home with fun stories of their outings. To do that, knowing the ATV-UTV laws and safe operation practices is a must.”
Safety tips and course
- Never consume alcohol or drugs before or during your ride.
- Wear your seat belt and your helmet! It could save your life.
- While you’re at it, wear protective clothing, such as eye protection, gloves, long pants and a long-sleeve shirt.
- Keep your speed in check for the terrain, visibility conditions and your experience.
“One of the best things you can do is take a safety course,” Stone said.
The online courses can be found here. 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).
Stone says the new state laws, which took effect March 4, affect passenger requirements, headlamps, operational requirements, vehicle legal definitions and more. Here are the highlights:
- ATV operators cannot have a passenger riding in or on any part of an ATV that is not designed or intended to be used by passengers. Previously, this law only applied to roadways. After-market seating does not comply with the law.
- For ATVs, low-pressure tires are no longer required; instead, the only requirement is three or more tires. ATVs are required to be commercially designed and manufactured and their width cannot exceed 50 inches as measured laterally between the outermost wheel rims on each side of the vehicle.
- For UTVs, low-pressure tires are also no longer required; instead, they must have four or more tires. UTVs must be originally manufactured with, and must have at all times, a width of not more than 65 inches as measured laterally between the outermost wheel rims on each side of the vehicle.
- ATVs and UTVs must now have a lighted headlamp and tail lamp during operation – regardless of time of day and location.
You can find more information on ATV and UTV regulations here.