Follow safety rules to protect against injury on an ATV

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 Kentucky is known for its rolling hills, but these hills can pose great dangers when navigated by inexperienced all-terrain vehicle drivers. 

Under-standing how to safely ride on hills is important for ATV drivers of all ages and experience levels.

Realize that some hills may be too steep for safe travel, regardless of driver age and ability.

Always look ahead for changes in the landscape.  As a hill approaches, shift to a lower gear and accelerate to gain momentum to climb the hill. Keep feet firmly on the vehicle’s foot rests and keep your weight going uphill at all times.

When climbing a hill, drivers may need to switch to a lower gear to keep the engine from jerking or stalling.  To keep the wheels on the ground, shift quickly and briefly release the throttle.

If the ATV does not have enough power to reach the top of the hill but has forward momentum and room to turn around, make a U-turn when possible and proceed downhill in a lower gear while keeping your weight going uphill.

If the ATV loses forward momentum, apply the brakes and then the parking brake. Dismount on the uphill side of the vehicle.

A worst case scenario of riding an ATV on hills is when the vehicle starts to roll backward.  If this happens, keep your weight going uphill and apply only the front brakes.  Apply the back brakes only when you have come to a complete stop and follow with the parking brake. Applying the back brakes abruptly when the vehicle starts to go backward could cause the vehicle to flip. Once the vehicle stops, dismount to the uphill side of the vehicle. If the vehicle continues to roll backward, dismount immediately on the uphill side.

To descend a hill, always look ahead, keep your weight uphill, use a lower gear, keep the speed slow and gradually brake.  Make sure your path is clear of as many obstacles as possible.

Going across a hill can be equally dangerous.  Avoid traversing a slope that is slippery, rough or has loose dirt. Your weight still needs to lean uphill with feet on the vehicle’s foot rests. You may need to turn your wheels uphill if going across soft terrain to keep the vehicle steady.  If the vehicle begins to tip, turn the wheels downhill if possible and if not, immediately dismount the vehicle on the uphill side.

Remember, Kentucky law requires parental supervision at all times for those under age 16 when riding an ATV, and the vehicle’s engine should not exceed 90 cubic centimeter displacement. Those under age 12 should not operate an ATV with an engine size more than 70 cubic centimeters displacement.

All ATV drivers and riders should wear proper riding equipment (helmet, gloves, long sleeve shirt, long pants and boots).

Dates of interest

May 30: 4-H Camp Camper Applications due to the Carroll County Extension Office.

May 31: First 4-H Camp Camper Orientation, 6 p.m., Carroll County Extension Office.

June 1: Deadline for FSA Sign Ups (DCP and ACRE Programs).

June 1: Final Cut-Off Date for NRCS Sign Ups (EQIP, Hoop Houses, and On-Farm Energy Initiatives).

June 7: Mandatory 4-H Camp Counselor Training, 6 p.m., Kenton County Extension Office.


Christin Herbst is the Carroll County Extension agent for agriculture and natural resources. Call her at (502) 732-7030 or send e-mail to Christin.Herbst@uky.edu.