News release: DNR offers tips for staying safe this off-highway vehicle season

April 8, 2024

Off-highway vehicles have been common sights across the state for weeks now, and they’ll become more prevalent going forward, as trails open for use as conditions allow.

With what could be an unusually long riding season on tap and the continued surge in the number of all-terrain vehicles registered in the state, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources urges all riders to make safety their top priority. During the past decade, an average of 19 people each year have been involved in fatal OHV crashes. In that same period, the number of registered machines has risen from about 377,000 to more than 520,500. While even one fatality is too many, the number of fatalities per registered ATV has been trending downward in recent years.

DNR safety officials said actively supervising young riders and making sure they properly fit the machine they’re riding, wearing a DOT-approved helmet, using the seatbelt on machines equipped with them, and completing a safety education course are among the top ways to ensure a safe ride.

“More and more people are figuring out what others have known a long time – riding an OHV is a good way to connect with the outdoors and enjoy our state’s natural resources,” said Capt. Jon Paurus, safety training education manager for the DNR Enforcement Division. “Whatever their experience level, we encourage all riders to take some time to refresh themselves on safety and help ensure they keep making positive memories for years to come.”

Minnesota law requires anyone born after July 1, 1987, and who is 12 years or older, to complete safety certification before operating ATVs on public lands or waters, public road rights-of-way, and state or grant-in-aid trails. However, safety officials encourage all riders to complete safety training, as people who do so are less likely to be involved in serious crash.

Other ways riders can help ensure a safe ride include:

  • Wear a DOT-approved helmet. While only those under 18 are required to do so, it’s recommended for all riders.
  • Ride only on designated trails. Stay to the right and travel at a safe speed.
  • Ride sober.
  • Remember riders under age 15 are not allowed to operate Class 2 ATVs, except on private property. The DNR advises against riders under 15 operating Class 2 ATVs in any location.
  • Wear a seatbelt if the machine is equipped.
  • Wear protective gear including goggles, long sleeves, long pants, over-the-ankle boots, gloves and a DOT-approved helmet when riding all types of OHVs.
  • Avoid riding on paved roads except to cross. Do it safely and ensure it’s permitted by law.
  • Actively supervise young riders. OHVs aren’t toys.
  • Complete a safety education course.

For more tips on safe riding, head to the DNR’s ATV safety webpage. For a list of currently available ATV safety classes, check out the DNR’s ATV safety training requirements webpage.

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