A: Training in the safe use of quad bikes and other all-terrain vehicles (ATVs) is extremely important. The perception of them as a leisure machine, ridden for thrills and fun, has made them popular but a number of incidents reported in the press recently have highlighted the risks of using quads and ATVs with insufficient training.
When we learn to drive a car, we do so first with "L" plates and driving lessons. In the same way, we should not expect simply to jump on a quad bike and ride.
Ridden correctly, quad bikes and ATVs are safe machines. It is the nature of the terrain on which we take the machines that leads to potential risks. Training helps you understand how to use the machine and to respond to the terrain, it helps develop an awareness of the capabilities and limitations of ATVs and it helps you improve rider skills.
There are several places you can go for training. If you are buying an ATV, your dealer may well be able to help. With the aim of promoting safe and responsible use of ATVs, the European All-Terrain Vehicle Safety Institute (EASI) is a not-for-profit organisation that provides safety training courses for ATV riders. In the UK its operation is sponsored by Honda, Kawasaki, Polaris, Suzuki and Yamaha - these companies take training seriously and so should new riders.
If you are buying a new or used ATV from one of these manufacturers' authorised dealers, you may be eligible for free or subsidised EASI Rider training (subject to qualifying terms, conditions and availability).
This introductory course takes about 4.5 hours and looks at clothing and equipment, pre-ride checks, signals, controls, starting, changing gears, braking, turning and stopping. Riding strategies and risk awareness are also covered, along with riding over obstacles, u-turns, hills and other safe and responsible riding practices.
If you already have a quad and want training, you can still contact your nearest dealer for details of the EASI Rider course. Normal price is £180 ex VAT. Other courses are also offered by EASI, including environmental awareness and a module concerned with loading, towing and reversing.
You may find that your local land-based college has facilities for ATV training. Visit www.lantracoursefinder.co.uk for details of the nearest venue.
10 TIPS FOR SAFETY
- Take a safety training course
- Always wear a helmet and suitable clothing
- Read the manual and familiarise yourself with the machine
- Avoid hard surfaces
- Never ride on the road unless the machine fully complies with the relevant codes - you also need the correct type of driving licence and insurance
- Never carry passengers on a quad bike unless it has been designed and built to do so
- Never ride while under the influence of alcohol or drugs
- Select a quad bike or ATV that is suitable for your experience
- Do not let under-16s and novice riders use machines without supervision
- Always ride at a safe speed and be alert to the terrain
Sally Drury has reported for HW and its forerunner GC&HTJ for 27 years, and has spent more than five years testing machinery for HW and What Kit? The advice in this helpline is independent.