The Root of it All

Don’t overlook the danger in loading ATVs

By Jeremiah Vardiman
Posted 6/27/19

ATVs and UTVs (utility vehicles) are just a way of life anymore.

They are so prevalent one must keep a sharp eye out for them, even in town. Injuries and deaths associated with ATVs have increased …

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The Root of it All

Don’t overlook the danger in loading ATVs

Posted

ATVs and UTVs (utility vehicles) are just a way of life anymore.

They are so prevalent one must keep a sharp eye out for them, even in town. Injuries and deaths associated with ATVs have increased over the past couple decades; an estimated 400,000 injuries and 800 ATV-related deaths occur each year in the United States.

Many times the dangers of common, everyday tasks are overlooked. One is loading, unloading, and transporting ATVs. This can be done several times a day and multiple days per week, which can make an individual complacent. County weed and pest crews use ATVs regularly and cover multiple areas in a county daily. They are constantly loading, unloading and transporting ATVs. In situations like this, individuals might be tempted to skip steps or take shortcuts to save time and effort.

A trailer with an attached ramp is safest for loading, unloading, and transporting ATVs. These trailers typically have lower profiles than pickups, making loading and unloading easier. The attached ramps typically have more space to maneuver on and will not kick out from underneath an ATV. Never load or unload a trailer not attached to a vehicle. Always secure portable ramps prior to loading and unloading. Never improvise ramps, such as using 2x6 lumber. Improvised equipment can lead to higher chances of accidents.

Wearing proper protective equipment and following good riding habits are also overlooked. Wear all protective equipment (long pants, long sleeves, boots that provide ankle support, gloves, helmet and eye protection) any time an ATV is loaded or unloaded.

When loading or unloading, stand up and use your knees as shock absorbers while shifting your weight forward or backwards to keep the ATV from lifting off the ramp. Lean forward if driving an ATV up the ramp or backing down the ramp. If driving the ATV forward down the ramp, stand up and shift weight back.

Loading or unloading an ATV, especially into the back of a truck, can be intimidating. Instead of driving an ATV up the ramps, use a winch to pull the ATV up the ramps. The winch can also be used to lower the ATV down the ramps. An anchor point mounted on the front of a trailer or truck bed (next to the cab) will be needed. Put the ATV into neutral and operate the winch.

Once loaded, properly secure the front and back of the ATV with heavy tie-down straps. When tightly secured, the suspension system of an ATV should be compressed several inches to ensure minimal movement during transportation. Frequent stops and checking straps is important when transporting ATVs, especially on trailers pulled over rough roads.

Keep in mind these tips when loading, unloading, and transporting ATVs while out completing your daily tasks. Focusing on the details, like securing the ramps and not taking shortcuts, will decrease chances of injury and equipment damage.

For more information and resources on ATV safety for agriculture use, contact any member of the University of Wyoming Extension’s Wyoming Good Riding Practices (WyGRiP) Team: Jeff Edwards, Hudson Hill, Brian Sebade, Bridger Feuz and Jeremiah Vardiman.

 

(Jeremiah Vardiman is an agriculture and horticulture extension educator with University of Wyoming Extension. He is based in Powell. A bulletin with tips for loading and unloading ATVs is available at www.bit.ly/ATV-tips.)

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