All terrain vehicles (ATVs) can be not only useful on the farm, they can add an element of fun to work. Whether using ATVs recreationally or as the best way to get to remote back fields, the Canadian Agricultural Safety Association’s “Appealing to Adults” Canadian Ag Safety Week campaign urges farmers to protect themselves against rollovers.
Rollovers happen alarmingly fast. That’s why it’s important for everyone to take rollover prevention seriously, each and every time they plan a ride.
Always remember to wear an ATV helmet, gloves, long sleeves, pants, and boots, even when only travelling a short distance. Inappropriate gear, such as loose clothing, can get caught on controls and doesn’t provide protection.
Next, check over the machine. Make sure you have enough fuel, top up engine oil if necessary, and ensure all brakes, lights and gauges are in good working order. If you’re going to be transporting farm supplies, make sure they are properly tied down. Don’t forget to look over any trailer or implement that is hitched to the ATV. Every machine is subject to load limits which can be found in the owner’s manual. Remember to consider how that weight is distributed and correct any inequalities.
Any load, even one well distributed, will impact the stability of the vehicle. Drive accordingly. Maintain a speed that can be controlled at all times and look ahead for hazards. Overconﬁdence, high speed, and steep slopes are the primary contributors to ATV rollovers.
When riding alone, tell someone else what routes you will be taking and when to expect your return. It’s a good idea to carry a safety kit that includes a flashlight, some basic first-aid supplies, a sounding device or flares, and take a cell phone or two-way radio. (Make sure that your communications device will work in the area where you’re travelling — cell phone signals aren’t guaranteed everywhere.) Plan to be home before dark and in case of bad weather, leave the ATV parked as both low light and reduced visibility increase the chance of a mishap. Don’t be tempted to go back for the machine in bad conditions.
Adult-sized ATVs are not appropriate for children under 16. Anyone driving an ATV should receive training. A few hours in an ATV course could save your life. Visit agsafetyweek.ca for more resources including toolbox talks on operating portable augers, safe handling of cattle and more.
Amy Petherick for the Canadian Agricultural Safety Association.