The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) reminds operators of all-terrain vehicles (ATV) and utility terrain vehicles (UTV) to think smart before they start to continue to ride.

So far this year, 30 people have died in ATV/UTV crashes in Wisconsin with the popular fall riding season still ahead. 

While there have been no ATV/UTV fatalities in Vilas and Oneida counties in 2021, there have been two in Iron County, two in Lincoln County and one in Forest County.

The 2021 DNR fatality accident summary also shows that more than one-half of the fatal accidents occurred on a town road or county highway.

According to the DNR statistics 23 of 30 fatalities were on ATVs, while the other seven were on UTVs.

Most crash victims were not wearing seat belts or helmets (at least 23 out of the 30), according to Lt. Martin R. Stone, DNR off-highway vehicle administrator.

When riding ATVs and UTVs, wearing a helmet and seat belt, monitoring speed and using caution on hills and uneven terrain could save a driver’s or passenger’s life, reminds Stone.

“(Fall) is a great time to explore designated trails and routes on ATVs and UTVs, but remember to use caution and wear protective gear,” said Stone. “Rollover crashes and collisions with fixed objects have caused nearly all ATV/UTV fatalities in Wisconsin in 2021. Monitoring speed and using caution on rough terrain is critical; some terrain in Wisconsin is too steep for ATVs and UTVs.”

Stone suggests to follow these tips for a safe ride:

• Never consume alcohol or drugs before or during your ride.

• Wear a seat belt and a Department of Transportation (DOT)-approved helmet. In addition to a seat belt and helmet, wear protective clothing such as eye protection, gloves, long pants and a long-sleeved shirt.

• Keep your speed in check for the terrain, visibility conditions and your experience.

• Remember that some terrain in Wisconsin is too steep for ATV/UTVs; be careful while traversing hills or uneven terrain.

• Know before you go by reviewing all ATV/UTV laws.

Stone said one of the best things ATV and UTV operators can do to operate safely is take an online safety course. A list of approved safety education classes is available on the DNR Safety Education webpage at dnr.wi.gov.

ATV and UTV operators born on or after Jan. 1, 1988, who are at least 12 years old for an ATV (and at least 16 years old for UTV) must complete an ATV safety certification course to operate in Wisconsin (exception: on private property owned by operator’s immediate family).

Wisconsin law requires every operator involved in a crash incident to report the incident without delay to law enforcement officials. In addition, within 10 days of the incident, the operator must submit a written report to the DNR.

While ATV/UTV crash incidents must be reported to the DNR, ATV/UTV operators — including those running on public roadways — are not required to have liability insurance like other motor vehicles.

For more information on ATV and UTV recreation in Wisconsin, visit the DNR  website at dnr.wi.gov.