What Age Can a Child Ride an ATV? Keeping Your Kids Safe and Legal

  • By: Kevinsmak
  • Date: January 12, 2023
  • Time to read: 5 min.
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A child as young as six years old can get their first taste of ATV riding, though it’s best to wait until they’re at least 16 years old. Recreational use is a major market segment for off-road vehicles like all-terrain vehicles (ATVs). Most states allow teenagers and older children to drive without a license.

About one-third of ATV-related deaths and injuries seen in hospitals involve children. To ensure the safety of your children, this article will teach you the fundamentals of ATVs and provide age guidelines.

What Exactly Are ATVs And Are They Safe For Children?

ATVs are motorized vehicles designed to be used off-road or on dirt roads rather than on paved roads or highways, as is the case with motorcycles. 

ATVs are often equipped with four huge balloon-style tires and a seat in the center, which the rider straddles while steering with the handlebars on each side. 

ATV Accidents 

As a result of their high center of gravity and lack of roll bars, safety cages, or seatbelts, these vehicles are prone to tipping over, throwing riders and passengers to the ground, or even rolling over on top of riders. 

This may result in significant damage or death, most often as a result of head trauma. Cuts, scratches, fractured collarbones, and broken arms and legs are among the other types of injuries that occur often

A high level of competence and fast thinking are required while operating ATVs. Children under 16 years old, who are not yet eligible to get a driver’s license, should not be permitted to operate or ride in off-road vehicles

ATVs are growing larger and quicker as a result of technological advancement. While this raises the excitement factor of the cars, it also leads to a higher number of catastrophic accidents.

Bumps, bruises, and fractures are the most frequent ATV injuries, but more severe injuries may also occur while riding a quad. 

Rollovers are often associated with injuries to the spine and pelvis. It is also typical for riders to get concussions and other types of brain injuries, particularly if they are not wearing a helmet.

Why ATVs Are Risky For Children Under 16 Years 

ATVs, especially when traveling at high speeds, maybe unstable and difficult to handle. Rollovers and crashes occur on a regular basis, and some of them are deadly.

ATV-related injuries are also prevalent, and they might result in a trip to the emergency department. 

ATV driving and riding are prohibited by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) for children and teenagers under the age of sixteen.

If you decide to allow your kid to ride an ATV, make sure they are aware of the safety measures and understand how to operate the vehicle properly.

While doing so helps to lessen the likelihood of damage or death, the only method to fully keep children safe is to prohibit them from riding ATVs in the first place, as described above.

Who Can Ride and Cannot Tide an ATV

Riding ATVs is not subject to any government rules or age restrictions. Instead, each state has its own set of rules and regulations.

Some jurisdictions require ATV riders to be 16 years old and to get a safety certificate before they may use their vehicles. Other states allow children as young as 10 to ride ATVs, as long as an adult with a valid driver’s license supervises them at all times.

The American Academy of Pediatrics does not encourage ATV usage for children and teenagers under the age of sixteen. Although it is permitted for children under the age of majority to ride ATVs, they may be too huge for younger children to manage safely. 

To operate an ATV safely, the driver must be able to make split-second choices, such as increasing or decreasing speed or moving his or her weight in reaction to changes in the surrounding environment. 

Children under the age of 16 are unlikely to make these decisions or possess the necessary abilities to carry them out.

If your kid chooses to ride an ATV, be certain that you are aware of and adhere to the restrictions of your state. This is true even if your youngster will not be operating the ATV in any way.

Many jurisdictions do not permit passengers to accompany ATVs unless the vehicle is built to transport two persons.

Safety Recommendations For ATVs

Anyone who rides an ATV should be aware of the following safety precautions before and during the ride:

  • Always ride at a safe speed on an ATV path that has been authorized.
  • Always use a helmet and eye protection that have been authorized. Helmets and eye protection are required by legislation in many places, and this is especially true for children.
  • Understand the basics of first aid so that you can treat minor injuries and summon assistance in an emergency.
  • Riding should only be done during daytime hours.
  • Consider taking an ATV safety training course to learn how to drive an ATV safely, and only ride an ATV that is appropriate for your size and age range. For further information, please see the ATV Safety Institute’s website.
  • Prevent scrapes and cuts by dressing in long trousers, long sleeves, gloves, and over-the-ankle boots to keep your legs warm.

What to Avoid When Using an ATV

  • Never transport more people than the number of seats advised by the manufacturer.
  • Never allow children or teenagers to operate an ATV with a passenger.
  • Never ride on a three-wheeled all-terrain vehicle.
  • Riding on paved surfaces or public roadways is not advised.
  • Make sure the area is clear of low power lines or tree branches


ATV riding will always be dangerous but since they’re entertaining, many children and teenagers will want to attempt it for themselves. Even with protections and protective legislation in place, there are no assurances that children will not be injured. 

However, by ensuring that riders adhere to safety regulations and understand how to operate ATVs properly, parents can do all in their power to keep their children safe.

Here is our recommendations for ATV for all ages. Some are for younger than 16 years old as they are not true ATVs but very similar with rubber tires and 4-wheel drive.

Please be careful and use at your own risk
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