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Keep safe when riding ATVs and Side by Side Vehicles this holiday season

Australia’s peak automotive body, The Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries (FCAI), is urging families to make safety the priority when riding off-road vehicles this holiday season. 

Christmas holidays are often an opportunity to visit friends and family on properties around the country – properties where ATVs (All Terrain Vehicles) and SSVs (Side by Side Vehicles) are used as versatile farm machinery. The temptation for younger riders to take these vehicles for a spin can sometimes be too much while after a day of celebrations, older riders can head out on a late-night excursion. Both scenarios can have fatal results. 

That is why the FCAI is urging owners of these vehicles to observe the known safety practices when operating ATVs and SSVs these holidays. It is especially important to supervise younger riders and ensure they only ride age-appropriate vehicles and wear appropriate safety equipment while older drivers should think twice before heading out on a joy ride. 

“There have been 21 fatalities involving ATVs and SSVs during 2021 up to the end of November and tragically children are over-represented in these numbers every year,” according to FCAI Chief Executive Tony Weber. 

“Alarmingly, it appears that in many incidents involving SSVs, the occupants had not used the seatbelts, doors or netting that are ‘built in’ safety devices designed to reduce harm. The result – the occupants were ejected or crushed in the incident,” he said. 

Safety Guidelines for SSV and ATV use: 

SSV 

  • Operators should be 16 years of age and ideally hold a valid drivers’ licence. 
  • Passengers must be tall enough for the seat belt to fit properly and to brace themselves if needed, by placing both feet firmly on the floor and being able to reach the hand hold. 
  • Don’t carry more passengers than there are seats available, and never in the cargo area 
  • Always wear a helmet, eye protection and other protective gear. 
  • Keep doors and side nets closed. Keep your whole body inside the SSV. 
  • Don’t drink and drive. 
  • Stick to off-road areas and don’t use sealed roadways. 

ATV 

  • Riders must be 16 years of age to operate an adult size ATV 
  • Always wear a helmet, eye protection and other protective gear 
  • Never carry a passenger on a single seat ATV 
  • Be trained and follow the manufacturer’s guidelines and warnings 
  • Never overload your vehicle and reduce loads on difficult or steep terrain. 

Parents and supervisors should ensure that these safety guidelines are carefully followed. 

“These vehicles can be outstanding work horses and be a great tool on a big property or work site,” Mr Weber said. “However, there is no doubt that incidents involving these vehicles are totally avoidable if they are driven according to the conditions and all safety protocols are followed.”