If you live here or have visited before then you know that Australia is a great destination for all kinds of amazing adventures.  Taking a four-wheeler ATV out through the beautiful countryside is a great way to spend any holiday.  Unfortunately the enjoyment of ATV riding is marred by the high rate of accidents that occur.  It would be foolish to say that you can avoid every type of accident or injury, but with a little bit of safety and preparedness you can do your best to protect yourself.

The most important thing to remember with an ATV is that it is not a toy.  It is a vehicle and a dangerous one and without the proper respect for what it is it can seriously injure you.  Always follow the safety guidelines established by the manufacturer.  They are there for a reason.  The age limits are incredibly important to follow.  Riders at the age of 16 and younger have an alarming rate of injury and they should always be properly supervised.

Suit Up

Wearing the proper safety equipment is important.  Believe it or not, you’re not an indestructible motocross star and you can get hurt.  The most common types of injuries that occur from ATV use involve head and facial injuries and the vast majority of fatal injuries occur from head and neck trauma.  The simple act of wearing a helmet goes a long way to significantly reducing the risk of these injuries.

There are other risks in operating an ATV that can result in other types of injuries.  Rollovers are very common in ATV operation.  Crushing injuries to the spine and chest occur easily when the weight of an entire ATV falls on its rider.

Get Smart

A safe and educated rider is a rider who survives.  If you are an inexperienced rider then take a safety course in ATV operation.  If you are travelling with children around 16 make sure that they are not operating an adult sized ATV and that they meet the age requirements for operating the vehicle as specified by the manufacturer.  And of course, children should always be supervised.

When travelling it is important to stick to approved ATV trails.  Going off of a trail might be fun, but an unapproved trail could have significant risks involved such as steep inclines or narrow roads that make navigating them treacherous.  Avoid travelling on public roads with them as well.  There is an increasing frequency of traffic collisions occurring on public roads that could easily be avoided merely by avoiding them completely.

Remember, most ATV’s are designed for carrying only one person and that’s the rider.  Unless you have an ATV specifically designed to bring a passenger then do not do it.  Having a passenger increases the risk of an incident and the chance that more than one person could be injured in the event that something bad were to occur.

Have Fun

Hopefully all of this doesn’t seem too grim.  The point of it is not to discourage you from riding but rather to encourage you to ride safely.  There are many travel and touring packages available to choose from.  Experienced tour guides can take you through the most beautiful of Australia’s wild paths and in a manner both safe and exhilarating. 

It is also a smart idea to make sure you have some kind of traveler’s health insurance as well so that you are protected in the event that an accident may occur.  Australia’s national Medicare program extends coverage to several countries under the Reciprocal Health Care Agreement.  In the event that you are coming from a country without the reciprocal agreement many travel agencies will be able to help you find appropriate short term coverage for your stay in the land down under.

Riding an ATV through Australia’s countryside is one of the greatest adventures you can have.  If you’ve never been riding an ATV your first step should be to learn to do it safely, then your next step should be to enjoy doing it down under.  Strap on your helmet, throttle up, ride safe, and ride fun!

 

Dennis Aimes is a health coordinator with HBF, a leading Australia health insurance provider.  Dennis enjoys recreational activities and encourages people to play safe when they’re adventuring, because the best vacations are the ones you don’t have to spend in a hospital.