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Three pillars of ATV/UTV safety for large farms, agribusinesses

The following information is provided by Nationwide®, the #1 farm and ranch insurer in the U.S.*

All-Terrain Vehicles (ATVs) and Utility Task Vehicles (UTVs) are ideal for a variety of common jobs on large farms and agribusinesses like scouting fields and transporting tools and building materials. The machines also extend the capabilities of ag workers. They’re workhorses for anyone from a large farm manager to a grain elevator operator or agronomist.

But like operating cars, trucks or other motorized vehicles, operating ATVs/UTVs can be hazardous when not done safely. Following a few basic safety tips (PDF) can help reduce the number of fatalities from crashes (PDF) involving these types of off-highway vehicles (OHVs). Safe ATV/UTV operation means everyone in an agribusiness or on a large farm knows and does what’s legal, what’s smart and what’s right. 

Three pillars of ATV/UTV safety

  1. What’s legal: Not always safe for ATV/UTV operation

Though specific laws vary by state, many ag states permit ATV/UTV use on some public roadways if the operator is a licensed driver. Just because it’s legal doesn’t mean it’s safe. ATVs/UTVs were built to ride and drive off-road, said Nationwide Powersports Product Manager David Russell. A car or truck driver might not see – and might collide with – these smaller vehicles.

“People often think that if something is legal, it must be safe,” Russell said. “Always be aware of what is permitted by law. Don’t get lulled into safety complacency because something is legal. What’s legal isn’t always safe.”

Begin building a culture of safety with ATVs/UTVs with your workforce by learning the laws and regulations. Then identify ways you can build on them to make sure all employees operating the machines are working safely.

  1. What’s smart: The role of common sense with ATV/UTV operation

Smart, safe ATV/UTV operation is a combination of the right safety equipment and know-how along with responsible operator behavior and common sense. Make a practice of keeping the machines off public roadways whenever possible and travel at a safe, smart speed. Instruct all workers to follow these rules without exception.

“Operators may drive the speed limit on the way to work. Then they’ll hop on an ATV/UTV inside a machine shop or storage building and tear out the door at an unsafe speed because they have work to get done,” said Nationwide Agribusiness Senior Risk Management Consultant Brian Hammer. “Especially with the power of many of today’s ATVs/UTVs, that kind of operator behavior can turn tragic in a hurry.”

  1. What’s right: With ATVs/UTVs, match job, manpower and horsepower

Hammer recommends training every member of your farm or agribusiness workforce before turning a wheel on an ATV/UTV. Also make sure all operators have the right machines to do their jobs and are prepared to do them responsibly. That includes knowing the machines’ capabilities so they can make safe operating decisions.

"Understand how accessories will affect speed and maneuverability. A sprayer and tanks may make your machine top-heavy and prone to rollovers. Components like brakes, tires, suspension, safety belts and even signal lights are not held to the same safety standards as cars and trucks.” Hammer said. “Make sure you’re pairing man and machine the right way. Never underestimate the importance of common sense.”

Added Russell: “Do you need a turbocharged engine? Maybe, maybe not. Though you may need extra power for certain on-the-job tasks, the most important thing to understand is what ATV/UTV you need for your job and what you’re buying, including what’s under the hood.”

Become an ATV/UTV safety champion in your business

At Nationwide, we take ATV/UTV safety seriously and want to make sure every customer is creating a culture of safety around the machines’ use on large farms and agribusinesses. Talk to your Nationwide Farm-Certified agent to make sure you’re doing everything you can to ensure safe, productive ATV/UTV use in your business.

*A.M. Best Market Share Report 2022.

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