Atvs, Utvs, And Snowmobiles | Safety Training Details You Need To Know

Recreation & Sports Blog

There is nothing better than the smell of gasoline and the roar of an engine on a beautiful winter's day. The skiers can have the slopes; snowmobilers and ATVers just want freshly groomed trails that stretch for miles. Before you don your helmet and head out, there are a few things you need to know about safety and state regulations.

How Old Do You Have to Be to Ride a Snowmobile, ATV, or UTV?

Minimum age limits for riding winter 'toys' vary from state to state. Children of any age can ride on their parent's land. In fact, they make mini snowmobiles, ATVs, and UTVs specifically for this purpose. There are typically governors on the engine to help the vehicles stay at a low rate of speed and reduce accidents. Once a child gets older, usually 10–14, they can ride with a parent if they have passed a safety exam. 

Do I Need to Take Any Safety Training or an Exam?

Safety training and testing also vary from state to state. In New York, for example, 14- to 17-year-old riders can go solo if they have completed an in-person snowmobile safety training class approved by the state, but children ages 10–13 must be accompanied by an adult for supervision. Those 18 and over do not need to attend a class.

Minnesota's rules are slightly different. Riders ages 11–15 must take a safety class online or in person. The class is followed by a vehicle performance exam or driving test. Adult riders, those 16 and over, only have to take the safety training class. Oddly, if you were born before December 31, 1976, you are not required to take classes of any kind. 

Can I Ride My ATV or UTV on Any Snowmobile Trail?

Many states do not allow ATV or UTV riders to use specially groomed snowmobile trails. Check with your Department of Natural Resources to see which trails you can and cannot use. Also, many states require a trail permit in order to use groomed state trails. The money that the state receives from trail permit sales often goes to groom and maintain the trails. You can see a list of all permit requirements, alphabetically by state, here.

Check with your state to see exactly what rules are in place before you plan your ride. In fact, it may be a good idea to check in the early fall so you have time to prepare before the snow starts flying. 

For more information, contact a company that offers snowmobile safety training.

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