Fun Shouldn’t End in the E.R.! Your Guide to Recreational Vehicle Safety
Recreational vehicles are the basis for many fun memories. Perhaps you learned how to ride an ATV for the first time one summer, or you and your friends spent a weekend plowing through fresh powder on snowmobiles. Maybe your family rented an R.V. and hit the road for an epic journey.
During these adventures, you may have taken the basic safety measurements into account (we hope you did!), but did you check the state of your ATV’s tires, or wear proper boots on your snowmobile? Did you ask the owner of the R.V. about the licensing and certification? Chances are you didn’t and you got lucky.
This post will cover the gear you or your clients need when operating recreational vehicles, how to maintain those vehicles, and how to manage them responsibly. With this information, your holiday or business venture can be enjoyed with minimal stress, maximum enjoyment, and zero tragedy.
It Starts With Regular Vehicle Maintenance
Recreational vehicles are used in many ways: some people use ATVs or jet skis for a fun weekend, while others derive an income through R.V. or golf cart rentals. Worksites and farms may even use UTVs or off-road motorcycles for daily operations. Because recreational vehicles are abundantly present in our lives, it’s essential for everyone’s safety that they receive consistent maintenance.
Regular Technical Services
Have professionals service your vehicle consistently: they’ll know what to look out for and will keep your service history up to date. These checks will also prevent any surprise engine failures (and resulting expenses) from occurring.
When heading off on your fun-mobile, make sure to do some personal checks before each ride. For a recreational vehicle, items on your list should include at the very least:
Brake pads & fluid
Chain tension & lubrication
Make sure to keep tabs on the general state of your vehicle—rust spots, dents, and other signs of stress can lead to unwanted issues.
Some checks are best done when the vehicle is on. Take note of:
Engine sounds (especially when idling)
Efficiency & feel of vehicle operation
If any of these sound or feel different, make sure to have your vehicle looked at by a professional mechanic.
Responsibility & Compliance
Whether you own recreational vehicles privately or for business, it is your responsibility to ensure compliance with any paperwork and regulations (like these ones which apply to RVs). Technical compliance is crucial for safety, as well as for the upkeep of your assets. Diligence regarding insurance and other certification (such as registration fees) is also vital—you don’t want to deal with legal problems!
If you’re a business owner, make sure your employees are up to date with their knowledge on correct documentation and safety procedures. Make sure there’s a fire extinguisher in your RV. Do the necessary research for your type of vehicle, as well as for the state you’re in.
The Right Gear Can Save Lives
Safety gear is crucial and can literally save your life. Almost everyone knows anecdotal examples of how a Bob has suffered due to gear negligence, or how a Jimmy survived because of his equipment. Motorbike and ATV safety in particular is very dependent on the right gear.
When riding your personal or rented vehicle, make sure all operators are wearing the proper gear where applicable:
Obvious as this is, we still see hooligans riding their dirt bikes without wearing their helmets. Saving money should not be your priority when buying your helmet. There have been many accounts of helmets breaking upon impact; take your time to choose a quality one and always wear it when riding your ATV or motorbike, even if you’re just going around the block. We suggest opting for a full-face helmet, as this will protect both your head and your face. Make sure your helmet meets the Department of Transport standards and carries the respective DOT and Snell Foundation labels.
Wear goggles if your helmet doesn’t have a built-in visor. Having dust or an insect fly into your eye at the wrong time is incredibly dangerous. You’ll lose your vision, your concentration will dissipate, and you’ll become a very distracted rider—not a good situation to be in.
Avoid being a human bobblehead by using a neck brace. These sit between your shoulders and helmet, locking your head in place when falling but allowing for necessary movement when riding.
Protect your hands from grazes, chafing, and the cold with some trusty gloves. If your vehicle doesn’t have knuckle guards on the crossbar, consider buying gloves with knuckle protection.
They may be heavy, clunky, and unfashionable, but boots will save your feet and ankles when you fall. Before heading off on a ride, make sure that you can easily shift gears with your boots on. If you can’t, have your gear lever adjusted accordingly.
This riding armor will protect your upper torso from injury. Be sure to choose one that is sturdy, fits you well, and doesn’t restrict your movement.
This gear keeps you safe while riding your ATV, off-road motorbike, or snowmobile. However, there is more gear specific to each discipline, such as shin protection for snowmobiles. We advise you research the necessary equipment for the specific recreational vehicle you own and what you should leave behind. You do not want to be wearing heavy boots on a jet ski—but a life jacket would be a good idea!
You’re Not Evel Knievel! Operate Responsibly
Trust us; we know that feeling of invincibility when cruising around on ATVs and snowmobiles! It’s great, but it comes with responsibility. Yes, you can improve your abilities within realistic bounds. No, you cannot attempt a double backflip. Know your boundaries and stick within them!
Here are some safety tips applicable to most recreational vehicles.
Don’t ride alone! Share your adventure with your friends. That way, there’s backup if one of you has an accident.
NO DRUGS or ALCOHOL! Period. No need for us elaborate here.
Wear all necessary safety gear.
Don’t ride if the visibility is poor.
Have a mobile phone on you in case of an emergency.
No earphones! Stay focused.
Stick within the speed limit and abide by all relevant signage.
Abide by the laws of your state (here’s where you can find the ATV-specific laws) and of the zone you’re in.
Only ride in demarcated areas; stay on the trail.
Avoid sensitive habitat zones (e.g. wilderness areas or national parks).
Study the terrain, its obstacles, and other potential dangers before heading out.
Pack out what you pack in—clean up after yourself!
Minimize the noise you make (e.g. no unnecessary revving).
Share the trail; it doesn’t belong to you!
Be cautious around animals and don’t spook them.
- Don’t forget your turn signals when other vehicles are around.
No Matter How You Use Recreational Vehicles, Stay Safe!
Whether using them for business, pleasure, or aid in work, be sure to take all the recreational vehicle safety measures into account. From licensing to operating the vehicle, be responsible while having fun or generating income.
There is no “one-size-fits-all” safety management plan for every situation. It’s essential that you assess, understand, and prepare for the risks associated with any scenario. SafetyTek is a leader in safety management software, and we can help! Contact us for more information, and don’t forget to share your best R.V. stories with us in the comments or on social media!