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ATV Rides with Your Kids: Are They Legal & Safe?

Harry Strick |

Are you itching to take your child for a ride on your ATV? Hold on—is that even legal to do? That is the question that bugs a majority of parents. Depending on where you live, you need to know the law; otherwise, you could get in trouble for just a few hours of fun!

Children under the age of 16 must not operate an ATV—but so far, there are no federal regulations when it comes to age limits on ATV use in the US. Still, each state has its own laws and regulations in the US and Canada. 

In the United States

The first thing to do if you reside in the US is to check the regulations in your state. On the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission (CSPC) site, you will find useful information on ATV riding for children. However, not all of the information here contains the particular age restrictions for each state. 

Use this as a starting point for your research. However, if you can’t find the information you need, dig deeper by calling the office that handles ATV usage for your state! Otherwise, you can do a more comprehensive search on your state’s government site. 

You should also keep in mind that these laws may apply even if your child isn’t behind the wheel of an ATV. This is because most ATVs are designed to be used by one person only—which makes carrying a child on board illegal and unsafe. 

In Canada

Each province in Canada has its own rules and regulations as well when it comes to ATV usage. That’s why you should take the time to check your province’s website to know more about the restrictions. 

ATV Sizes & Your Child

If your child is under 16 years old and wants to ride an ATV, there are still some options for you. For one, you need to look into the sizes. An adult ATV has 90cc engines or even more—but there are ATVs with smaller engines that may be suitable for a child under 16 years old!

Some of the ATV sizes with smaller engines are electric motor ATVs. Kids between six and 11 years old may be able to ride an ATV with a 70cc engine, while kids between 12 and 15 years old can ride an ATV with 70 to 90 cc engines. By starting them early on these kid-friendly ATVs, they can get used to riding along—so much so that by the time they’re of legal age, they can ride on confidently!

Safety Tips

Should you find that your child can ride an ATV in the state, you should be mindful of the safety guidelines. Make sure to always wear a helmet and eye protection, regardless of how short the distance you’re riding. Your child should also be in protective gear, such as elbow guards, riding boots, knee pads, and gloves, just in case they manage to topple the vehicle over!

Also, when taking your child on an ATV ride, do it during the day and only follow designated ATV trails. You might also want to take an ATV operating course—which can actually be a mandatory requirement for some states. 

Conclusion—Get Set, Ride!

Taking your child on an ATV ride is exciting—but it’s important you’re sure that it is allowed in your state. Use these tips to ensure safety on the road on an ATV with your kid. If you’re not sure about the particular rules in your area, then ask an ATV retailer near you—they’re likely to know the specifics too!

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