Quad Bike/ATV Safety and the Training of Riders

Last updated: 04-05-2020

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Quad Bike/ATV Safety and the Training of Riders

On the Arrive Alive website, we share information on safe driving with a wide range of vehicles and on different terrains. This includes quad bikes/ATV and advice on the need for protective gear and extra caution required when operated by children. It is however also important to recognize the need for safety awareness among workers who are entrusted with these vehicles. 

South Africa has the 10th largest road network in the world with fast rural and farming areas. In these areas, it is often prudent to use quad bikes to move between different locations. We decided to approach one of our experts and gain some insights on a safety strategy for our employers, workers and employees on defensive rider training and awareness.   

Oh, I think you’ve answered this one in the first half of your question. Any type or form of proper education is a move in the right direction, although some levels of training may even delay the progress or is simply insufficient.

In a motor car the operator is protected by the shell or body of the vehicle, but on a quad bike or ATV the operator, like on a motorcycle, is directly exposed to the environment in which he operates.

Thus, I feel that informing quad bike and ATV operators on the full spectrum of the vehicle is a matter of life and death and should be taken seriously by both the operator and his/her employer.

A motor car, quad bike, and ATV all have 4 wheels and therefore do not require a huge sense of balance or hand-eye-foot coordination.

Motorcycles, on the other hand, only have two wheels and thus require a totally different skillset and level of training.

On motorcycles, the rider posture can change from motorcycle type to motorcycle type, but in motor cars, on quad bikes, and on ATVs, the posture is universal.

Four-wheeled vehicles require direct steering; turning the steering wheel or handlebar in the direction you'd like to go, whereas motorcycles mostly require counter-steering.

Body movement, or weight shifting, is another important skill the master when learning to operate a quad bike or ATV.

With these factors mentioned, it should be clear that each vehicle requires its own skillset and operators should obtain these skills, through proper training, on a vehicle-to-vehicle basis.

There are three very important safety aspects to consider on a quad bike or ATV, and they are:

These three factors are what makes a vehicle stable, or the very opposite.

In the hands of an ignorant fool, the quad bike or ATV will become detrimental to one's health.

In my book, the operator must pursue or have obtained proper training to learn basic maintenance of the vehicle, the suspension dynamics, understand the forces of motion on the quad bike or ATV, and the safe and effective operation of such a vehicle.

Sure, there are some differences in the riding gear on quad bikes and ATVs with similarities to that of an off-road motorcycle.

The following standard riding gear should be considered:

Firstly, I've seen several companies being sued for injury or death to an operator where no official training was provided by the employer.

This, however, should not be the main motivating factor; investing in the skill of an employee has numerous long-term and positive outcomes. An initial small investment in skills development will save the employer a lot more in the long run.

The risk to quad bike or ATV operators is as real, if not more, than any other vehicle operator on the farm, construction site or industrial terrain.

Any casualty, be it from a collision or a crash, is directly related to skill, conditions, and vehicle.

Bring these together in a lacking relation to the above factors, and you have a disaster waiting to happen.

One can learn basic skills from a friend, family or fellow employee, but defensive techniques can only be learned through proper training conducted by a professional instructor.

A typical ATV Course consists of the above, and several other important techniques which instil confidence in the operator.

Certainly. Quad bikes are not recommended for passengers or carrying major loads, especially if the load adds risk to the operator or chances the handling dynamics of the quad bike.

Side-by-side ATVs can accommodate a passenger and a light load in the bin.

You see, when carrying a passenger on a quad bike, the passenger sits directly on or over the rear axle. With the shorter wheelbase, a quad bike is prone to “hopping” and can very easily bump the passenger up and off the vehicle. It is ideal that both rider and passenger seat between the two axles, which adds to the stability of the quad bike or ATV.

We’ve recently conducted ATV training to folks of the SERNICK Group near Kroonstad, and in the past riders from Sappi and Mondi.

We try and keep the groups small and interactive, not more than 5 or 6 riders per day, where two riders are able to share an ATV or quad bike.

These one-day courses are conducted on-site and in an area of about 30 x 60m in size, preferably in their work environment and on their own ATVs or quad bikes. Any off-road area or terrain, with our guidelines, can easily be transformed into a temporary training range.

We bring our cones and other training aids, a solid curriculum, and provide the necessary certification upon a successful assessment at the end of the day.

It’s all about managing risk. Managing risks means being a good decision-maker. Many accidents are caused by poor riding decisions. Riders need to learn to organize safe thought processes and manage risk by using a thinking strategy to help them.

Professional training provides insight into the risks associated with ATV or quad bike operation and ways to manage these risks.

Motorbike Safety through the Eyes of the Instructor


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