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All-terrain vehicles are great for adventures through the woods and on trails. Some are even designed for work on farms. Though ATVs can be fun, they can also be dangerous. Four-wheelers can be more hazardous to kids than adults, but with the right equipment, you can keep your children safe as they ride their very own machine.

Here are some guidelines you should keep in mind when choosing an ATV for kids and other beginners

When is a child ready to use an ATV?

A good rule of thumb is not to let children under 6 operate an ATV, Penn State Extension reports. Though some children aged 6 to 10 can handle a smaller unit, not everyone is ready at such a young age. Physical and emotional development are important traits that kids should have before they can drive a four-wheeler. 

The first thing to look for is height. If your child can stand with both feet on the ATV’s footrests and their bottom at least three inches above the seat, they might be good to ride. Also, check to see if they can stand while turning the wheels to the right and left (while the vehicle is turned off) with no problems. If so, they should be ready physically. 

Their emotional development would include how disciplined they are. If your child has proven they can follow the rules without giving you too much grief, they should be OK with learning how to operate an ATV. For those who are apt to get into trouble and push the envelope, they probably should wait.

What ATV models should you consider for your kid?

A few models are good for kids aged 6 to 11. At this age, they should drive an ATV with an engine size that’s less than 70cc. For kids in the 12-to-15-year range, they should operate four-wheelers with motors ranging from 70cc to 90cc. Sixteen-year-olds can ride adult-sized units around 90cc or up, Dirt Wheels Magazine reports. 

One of the best models for 6-to-11-year-olds is Apex Pro MXR. It comes in several engine sizes ranging from 49cc to 99cc. Weighing 248 pounds, this model has a continuously variable transmission (CVT), a 1.5-gallon fuel tank, and 5.3 inches of ground clearance. Expect to pay around $4,200. 

For kids aged 12 to 15, one model stands out — the Can-Am DS. This 250-pound ATV offers a 70cc or a 90cc displacement engine. It also comes with an electric start, a CVT with reverse, 1.6-gallon fuel capacity, and 4.5-inch ground clearance. Prices average around $2,349 for the 70cc and $2,849 for the 90cc. 

For 16-year-olds and up, there’s the Polaris Outlaw 110, packing a 112cc motor. It has a CVT with reverse, 1.6-gallon fuel capacity, 4.0-inch ground clearance, and a wet weight of 278 pounds. This model costs around $4,000. 

Safety guidelines for 4-wheelers


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Whether you’re a kid or an adult, following safety guidelines will keep you safe on an ATV. This is especially true for children because they’re smaller and haven’t developed good evaluating skills yet. 

It’s good practice to dress safely whenever you ride an ATV. That includes full face-shield helmets, long-sleeve shirts and pants, gloves, and over-the-ankle shoes or boots. Be sure none of the clothing is loose to prevent garments from getting snagged in the ATV’s wheels or other parts. 

Additional rules to keep in mind include adding lights, reflectors, and possibly even flags on smaller units to increase visibility so that others are aware of its presence. You should also discourage your children from giving rides to others on ATVs. That’s because these vehicles are built for one person only. 

Keeping kids safe on ATVs doesn’t have to be difficult. Most can safely operate one with the right equipment, such as a helmet and a smaller vehicle. Teach them how to operate one safely — or ensure they take a training course — and they can ride along with you on your next trail adventure.