All-Terrain Vehicle Safety Resources

7/21/2016

Introduction

ATV rider.All-terrain vehicles are popular off-road vehicles used for a wide variety of work and recreational activities.

Recently, the growing popularity of ATVs and the increasing size and power of the vehicles has led to concern over injury risk. Among the high-profile ATV accidents was one involving six-time Olympic swimming medalist Amy Van Dyken-Rouen.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission estimates that ATVs result in more than 100,000 emergency department visits annually, including more than 30,000 injuries for children under 16 years. During the past decade, more than 200 children died annually due to injuries sustained on ATVs. Children make up a disproportionate number of ATV injuries.

In response to the increase in popularity and use of ATVs, state legislatures are considering several ways to ensure the safety of ATV users and the general public.  Specifically, states are regulating:

  • Highway Use
  • Implementing age and safety requirements
  • Amending ATV definitions
  • Designating public land for ATV use and imposing requirements for ATV use on public land

Definition of ATV

What exactly is an ATV? The acronym stands for “all-terrain vehicle,” although terms such as “off-highway vehicle” (OHV) or “off-road vehicle” (ORV) are used by states to denote the same or similar type of vehicle. The American National Standards Institute (ANSI) defines an ATV as a vehicle that is designed for off-road use that travels on low-pressure tires, has a seat that is straddled by the operator and handlebars for steering control, and is intended for use by a single operator. 

The box allows you to conduct a full text search or the state name.

ATV Laws and Regulations on Helmets and Operation on Public Roads
State Helmet Requirement Operation on Public Roads
Alabama N/A Prohibited according to Alabama Department of Public Health
Alaska N/A

13 AAC 02.455

operation on roadway only in certain circumstances
Arizona Required for riders under 18 on public lands Off-highway vehicles that meet certain requirements may be registered, thereby making them street legal
Arkansas N/A

§ 27-21-106

Operation on roadway only in certain circumstances
California

Vehicle Code § 38505, 27802

Operator and passenger must wear approved helmet on public lands

Vehicle Code § 38025a

Only to cross
Colorado N/A

§ 33-14.5-108

Operation on roadway only in certain circumstances
Connecticut N/A Only to cross a public highway
Delaware

Title 21 § 6823

Required for anyone under 18, whether operator or passenger 

Title 21 § 6814

Prohibited
Florida

§ 316.2074

Required for riders under age 16

§ 316.2074

Prohibited
Georgia N/A

§ 40-7-5

Localities can designate zones of use
Hawaii N/A

§ 286-12

Permitted in certain instances
Idaho

§ 49-666

Required for riders under age 18

§ 49-426

Yes, but localities can adopt ordinances to restrict operation
Illinois N/A Ch. 625 § 5/11-1426.1
Indiana N/A

§ 14-16-1-20, 9-21-1-3

Operation on roadway only in certain circumstances

Localities can regulate
Iowa Required when riding in state-owned parks

Operation on roadway only in certain circumstances

Localities can regulate
Kansas N/A

§ 8-15,100

Prohibited
Kentucky

§ 189.515

Required for operators over 16 on public property

Required for operators and passengers under 16 

§ 189.515

Operation on roadway only in certain circumstances
Louisiana N/A

§ 32:299

Operation on roadway only in certain circumstances
Maine

§ 13157-A

Required if under 18

§ 13157-A

Operation on roadway in certain circumstances
Maryland Required in certain counties, such as Montgomery and Baltimore

Criminal Law, § 6-405

Prohibited
Massachusetts

Ch. 90B § 26

Required for all operators and passengers

Ch. 90B § 25

Prohibited
Michigan

§ 324.81133

Anyone operating on public land must wear a helmet. Riders over 16 may ride on private land without a helmet

§ 324.81131

Registered vehicles may be operated on public roads.

Unregistered
Minnesota Operators under 16 must wear an approved helmet, 16 and 17 must wear a helmet when operating on public lands, public road rights-of-way Must be registered, certain exceptions for operating on public roads
Mississippi

§ 63-31-3

Required for riders under 16

§ 63-31-3

Prohibited
Missouri

§ 304.013

Required for operators under 18

§ 304.013

Prohibited
Montana Required for operators under 18

§23-3-824

Street legal off-highway vehicles permitted
Nebraska N/A

§ 60-6,356

Localities can authorize

Nevada

§ 490.130

Required when operating on highways

§ 490.090

Generally prohibited, operation on roadway in certain circumstances
New Hampshire

§ 215-A:13-a

Required for operators under 18 on public roads

§ 215-A:6

Operation on road
New Jersey N/A

§ 39:3C-17

Operation on roadway in certain circumstances
New Mexico

§ 66-3-1010.3

Required for operators under 18 

§ 66-3-1011

Prohibited unless authorized by local authority a
New York

Vehicle & Traffic Law, § 2406

Required for all operators and passengers 

Vehicle & Traffic Law, § 2403

Generally prohibited, operation on roadway in certain circumstances
North Carolina

§ 20-171.19

Required for all operators under 18, required for all operators on public roads

§ 20-171.19

Prohibited except to cross the road
North Dakota

§ 39-29-09

Required for operators under 18

§ 39-29-09

Operation on roadway in certain circumstances
Ohio

Administrative Code 1501:3-4-14

Required on state forest trails

§ 4519.41

Operation on roadway in certain circumstances
Oklahoma

§ 11-1117

Required for anyone under 18

§ 11-1116

Generally prohibited, operation on roadway in certain circumstances
Oregon

§ 821.202

Required for anyone under 18

§§ 821.055, 821.191

May operate on roads not maintained for passenger car traffic, otherwise generally prohibited
Pennsylvania

Title 75 § 7726

Required for operators and passengers

Title 75 § 7721

Generally prohibited, operation on roadway in certain circumstances
Rhode Island

§ 31-3.2-7

Required for operators and passengers

§ 31-3.2-7

Generally prohibited, operation on roadway in certain circumstances
South Carolina

§ 50-26-30

Required for operators and passengers under 16
Prohibited
South Dakota N/A

§ 32-20-12

Prohibited except to cross roadway
Tennessee

55-8-185

Required for operators and passengers

§ 55-8-185

Operation on roadway in certain circumstances
Texas

Transportation Code § 663.034

Required for operators and passengers on public property

Transportation Code § 663.037

Prohibited except to cross roadway or in certain circumstances
Utah

§ 41-22-10.8

Required for operators and passengers under 18

§41-22-10.3

Prohibited except to cross roadway or in certain circumstances
Vermont N/A

Title 23, § 3506

Prohibited except to cross roadway
Virginia

§ 46.2-915.1

Required for all operators

§ 46.2-915.1

Prohibited unless authorized by local authority an
Washington

§ 46.09.470

Required for all operators

§ 46.09.455

Permitted on certain roads with speed limits below 35 mph, where approved
West Virginia

§ 17F-1-1

Required for all operators and passengers under 18

§ 17F-1-1

Prohibited except to cross roadway or in certain circumstances
Wisconsin

§ 23.33

Required for operators under 18 on public lands

§ 23.33

Prohibited except to cross roadway or in certain circumstances
Wyoming

§31-5-124

Required for operators under 18

§31-5-1601

Prohibited except to cross roadway or in certain circumstances
District of Columbia N/A

§ 50-2201.04b

No

Background on ATV Safety Laws 

  • All-Terrain Vehicle Safety | Legislative Activity in the States, Jan. 2014. The popularity of all-terrain vehicles (ATVs) continues to rise across the nation as more Americans use them for recreational and agricultural purposes. This Transportation Review explores how state legislatures have worked to ensure the safety of ATV users and the general public.
  • Paving Safe Paths for ATVs, Feb. 2014. This article from State Legislatures magazine explores how states have refined laws to increase safety and opportunities for ATV use.

Additional Resources