Chances are, if you are reading this article right now, you have been searching online for some information regarding UTVs. If you are new to UTVs or have just become the proud owner of one, and are learning as much as you can about them, then keep reading! Safe operation of your UTV while driving it is pretty important, and while this may seem like a no-brainer, you would be pretty amazed at what we have seen some people do on their UTVs just because they didn't know any better.
PROPER ATTIRE FOR RIDING
First and foremost (and we will preach this until the end of our days) - always wear a helmet! A helmet can absolutely mean the difference between surviving an accident or not, and it should be a rule of the house or business to always have one in your vehicle. It doesn't have to be a big, full-face helmet; open-face helmets work well, too, and can be easier to pull on and off during shorter rides.
Closed-toe shoes, long pants and long sleeves are also highly recommended - as a minimum - if you will be doing anything more than a quick trip to the mailbox in your side-by-side. It's easy to get lulled into feeling safe with a rollcage, but this is a motorized vehicle and having your skin protected is always a good idea.
KEEP IT IN THE DIRT
You can't miss the warning labels plastered all over any UTV or side-by-side that you purchase from a dealer, but if you are buying used, these lables may have been removed. Your UTV was made to be ridden in the dirt, and not on the pavement.
The way the front and rear tires put power to the ground, the way the machine handles when turning, the way it grabs traction - all of this was designed to be driven on a loose, unstable surface like dirt. Putting your UTV on pavement changes things, and suddenly you are grabbing traction in funny places and at unexpected times.
If you must drive your UTV on pavement for any distance, be aware that your steering input will now be magnified as well as your throttle input, and your machine will handle very differently.
Those strappy looking things hanging on the back of your seat - yes, those things....with the shiny silver buckle on the end - those are very important for your safety and well-being, and we have to say that part of any safe UTV experience is buckling your seat belt or making sure you have an aftermarket harness installed and using it every time you take your UTV out for a ride.
Just like your car or truck, accidents can happen at any time - especially when you aren't expecting them. A seatbelt, like your helmet, can absolutely save your life and it is such a simple safety item to use. The three-point systems that come in your UTV from the factory are perfectly fine, and some riders actually prefer them to the more cumbersome aftermarket harnesses. If you find yourself with a used UTV that doesn't have seat-belts or harnesses, then we highly recommend buying replacements before you even drive your machine.
POINT IT UP OR DOWNHILL
Where most people find themselves in trouble with their UTV is on a hill - while either climbing hills, or traversing sideways across them. One of the most important pieces of safety advice we give to anyone driving a UTV is to keep the nose either pointed up a hill, or down a hill. Even a smaller hill can present a problem if you spend too much time going across it without having the proper steering input to keep the machine moving in the right direction.
DONUTS ARE BAD
Everyone likes a good donut, right? We personally prefer old-fashioned chocolate with chocolate frosting, but we also know they are bad for us. The same goes for donuts in a UTV or, any type of goofing off on your UTV for that matter. So many things can go wrong if you are driving erratically, spinning in tight circles, or doing any type of driving that results in sudden, jerky movements with the steering wheel or brakes. UTVs were designed to go just about anywhere, and to keep you safe while doing so, but hot-rodding and messing around in one puts it beyond what it was designed to do, and you could wind up on your lid, or worse. So, stay on the safe and responsible side, and keep the wheels on the ground and just say "no" to those tempting donuts!
This is the short list, but it's a good start for just knowing some basic safety operation guidelines for your UTV. These fantastic machines were made for us to have fun with, so go out and have a blast - but do it safely!