If your teen has grown up riding with you on all-terrain vehicles (ATVs) throughout the mountains and back roads of Colorado, it’s only natural that once they hit the legal age to operate one on their own, they’re anxious to do it. However, it’s crucial to make sure that they have the necessary skills, knowledge and safety gear. Full-size ATVs are heavy and can be dangerous to those on or around them if they roll over or are involved in a collision.
State age restrictions around ATVs vary. Here in Colorado, you must be at least 16 years of age to operate one without the supervision of someone with a driver’s license. Kids aged 10 through 15 can operate an ATV if a licensed driver is supervising them.
If your child has turned 16 and is anxious to go out on their own or with friends this summer, make sure they are prepared. Of course, you need to be sure that they have enough experience and training to safely operate an ATV of the size they’ll be using. You also need to be certain that any ATV they use is registered and that it has all the necessary equipment required by law.
They need to be wearing all of the appropriate safety gear as well. That means a helmet, shatterproof goggles, boots, long pants and a long-sleeved shirt or jacket.
It’s also important to know where you can and can’t legally ride an ATV. Some cities and counties allow ATVs and other off-road vehicles on public roads. However, most don’t. For everyone’s safety – and to avoid costly fines or even criminal charges – it’s important never to ride anywhere that you’re not sure you have the legal right or the property owner’s permission to be.
Anyone who knows someone who’s been in an ATV accident knows that they can be serious and even fatal. If your teen or any loved one is injured by another ATV operator, don’t underestimate their injuries until they’ve seen a doctor. You have the right to seek compensation from the at-fault driver and their insurance company for medical costs and other expenses and damages.