Labor Day weekend is expected to be a busy time on ATV/UTV trails and road routes as many celebrate this final weekend of summer. / Photo Credit: Wisconsin DNR
MADISON, Wis. – The DNR is encouraging ATV and UTV operators to brush up on safe practices ahead of the Labor Day holiday. So far in 2020 there have been 23 fatal ATV and UTV incidents, compared to 14 in 2019.
The state's off-highway vehicle administrator says operators of all-terrain vehicles (ATV) and utility-terrain vehicles (UTV) should know the state laws and proven safety practices before enjoying any of Wisconsin's designated trails and routes this weekend.
"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. "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 & SAFETY COURSE
Stone said when used safely and wisely, ATVs and UTVs can provide a source of fun and family recreation as well as a useful tool for work and exploring the outdoors. When used unwisely by untrained, inexperienced operators, they can be dangerous. It is the responsibility of all ATV & UTV operators to make the sport a safe one. Please remember these safety tips:
- 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).
NEW LAWS REFRESHER
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.
- No person (except emergency services personnel) may operate an ATV or UTV that is equipped with any of the following:
- A lamp that emits a color other than white or amber and that is visible from directly in front of the vehicle.
- A lamp that emits any color of light other than red, yellow, amber or white and that is visible from directly behind the ATV or UTV.
- A flashing, oscillating or rotating lamp that emits any color other than yellow or amber.
- Any person operating an ATV or UTV must dim his or her high-beam headlamps and any auxiliary lamps when within 500 feet of an approaching ATV/UTV or vehicle, and within 500 feet to the rear of another ATV/UTV or vehicle.
- ATVs and UTVs cannot be operated with anything else other than tires (exception: private property or frozen waters).
You can find more information on ATV and UTV regulations here.