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Safety First: A Beginners’ Guide to UTVs

If you’re new to utility terrain vehicles or , you’re probably pretty excited to start riding yours. UTVs offer a convenient and fun way to ride over difficult terrain with friends and family. They’re also powerhouses when it comes to being able to tow and haul heavy machines and cargo around the farm or job site. When you own a UTV, you own a multi-purpose vehicle that will serve you well no matter what you plan to do with it.

We’re big fans of all the uses for UTVs, both recreational and professional, here at Family Powersports Lubbock. We also know the value of safety, so for the novices to the UTV world, here’s our guide to UTV safety. Family Powersports also has two convenient locations in Odessa and San Angelo, Texas, so if you’re looking for new or used UTVs, come see us! We carry all the top brands, including models by Polaris®.

Gear

The right gear will help you stay safe on your UTV. The most important piece to consider is a well-fitting helmet that is rated for high-impact extreme sports. Your choices are to wear a motorcycle helmet with face mask or a motocross helmet with goggles. We prefer the latter option because it’s lighter in weight and more breathable, but you’ll be protected in the event of an impact. Goggles or a face mask will protect your eyes from flying debris as you ride.

The rest of your attire should be protective, but doesn’t need to be specialized. Gloves with good grip and boots that protect your ankles are important, as are long sleeves and pants. You want to reduce how much skin you expose because of flying dirt, debris, rocks and branches that could scrape you up. You’ll also have instant sun protection when wearing breathable clothes that protect your limbs.

Trails and Pathways

While you’re operating your UTV, don’t be tempted to stray off the path. When following a designated trail or pathway, never try to forge your own way through the underbrush. Not only are you increasing your risk of an accident or rollover when you hit unexpected terrain or an unforeseen obstacle like a large rock or ditch, but you’re doing damage to the surrounding environment and the animals that live there. The path is meant to guide you over a reasonably easy route that still offers you plenty of fun riding, so stick to it and obey all laws, including speed limits and hours of use.

Maintenance

Keeping your UTV maintained will significantly decrease your chances of having an accident or breakdown on the trail. Walk around your vehicle before you even leave home and examine it for signs of damage. Check your tire pressure and inflate all your tires to the right pressure while looking for embedded objects or excessive wear. Look under the UTV to see that fluids aren’t leaking from it and top up oil and coolant. Fill up the fuel tank before every trip. If you have any issues that need addressing, contact the Family Powersports service department so our mechanics can help you out.

Operation

Remaining aware of your surroundings is vitally important on a UTV. The three main elements of safe operation are preparedness, maintaining awareness and knowing your own limits. Preparedness involves having the right gear, knowing where you’re going by looking at a mpa of the course beforehand, and being able to operate your vehicle safely.

When you’re actively riding, you need to stay focused and look ahead for any obstacles or other vehicles or trail users that you’ll need to avoid. Know your limits and don’t attempt any paths that are beyond your experience level. Don’t go faster than you know you should. Ride during daylight hours and good weather conditions and always ride with other people who can help you out in an emergency.

Situational Awareness

When riding with kids on a UTV, it’s important that they are aware of the rules of the road. Keep them buckled up in seat belts and make sure they all have their helmets on snugly. You should never take very young children or infants on a UTV or try to put a carseat in a UTV. Some states may have laws about age restrictions or require that your children take a safety course before riding in a UTV. When you allow a teenager to operate a UTV, make sure they are supervised and following all the rules of the road.

No matter who is operating the UTV, they should remain sober at all times. Drinking alcohol or using recreational drugs will impair your focus, slow your reflexes and make you more likely to take undue risks. The only safe way to operate heavy machinery is by remaining sober. Some prescription drugs and health conditions can also impede your ability to drive a UTV so check with your doctor before you do so if you have concerns. Protect yourself, your riders and those around you by keeping your focus and staying sharp.

Remember, if you still don’t have a UTV and you’re itching to buy one, come see the selection we carry at our Lubbock dealership, where we sell Polaris UTVs among other brands. If you still have questions or concerns about UTV safety, our staff will be more than happy to answer your questions. Family Powersports of Lubbock serves the cities of Lake Tanglewood, Plainview and Seminole, Texas.

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