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ATVs and Kids: Parent Q&A


My wife, Jennifer, and I let our child ride an ATV, and we get questions from fellow parents all the time. To back up the opinions below, we did some research, utilizing Stay the Trail Colorado and the ATV Safety Institute. These regulations apply to Colorado; other states may vary so research local regulation.

Kid ATV Age Requirements

US Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management (BLM) trails require no minimum age. Some agencies leave age requirements to manufacturer recommendations but check with local law enforcement. The best rule of thumb: If your child cannot comfortably reach and utilize all the controls while seated, they are not old enough to ride alone. 

Licenses are required on county, city, state or federal infrastructure. In some counties, ages 10+ are permitted to operate an ATV if licensed supervised by an adult.

A US Forest Ranger once stopped us at Taylor Park when we had Joey on a forest trail claiming Joey was not allowed as a rider under 10. Upon researching, I think the ranger was wrong. I recommend printing off trail info and keeping it in your power vehicle for instances like this. 

Helmet Requirements

Colorado has no motorcycle helmet law for adults, but minors (under 18) must wear a helmet, in both the operator and passenger position. Jennifer and I do not allow Joey to ride without protective apparel. 

Passengers

Not all ATVs are passenger-friendly. Some two-up quads are specially-designed with suspensions for an extra rider. Before taking a child for a ride on a four-wheeler, be sure that it is designed for two. Stay the Trail strongly discourages any passengers on quads that are not designed for such a load. It is important to follow these recommendations to avoid serious injury or death.

Appropriate Size

Choose a size-appropriate machine; ten-year-olds don't have the strength to maneuver a 650cc machine. There are times I wasn’t sure I could handle our 400cc, and I’m not a small guy.

Formal Training

Utilize credible web resources like atvsafety.org and staythetrail.org, or take safety classes and ATV training courses. 

Verdict

Safety first. Know rules and regulations regarding minor ATV operation Utilize safety gear, and contact a professional if you're in need of more thorough instruction. As always, be safe, and enjoy your ride. 

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