All Terrain Vehicle (ATV) Safety

Keep your children safe when riding an ATV: Right Size ATV. Right Gear. Right Training. Everytime!

young boy in red shirt riding ATV vehicle

What is an ATV?

An ATV (All Terrain Vehicle) is a motorized off-road vehicle designed to travel on four low-pressure tires, with a seat designed to be straddled by the operator and handlebars for steering control. There are two types of ATVs. Type 1 ATVs are intended to be use by a single operator and no passenger. Type 2 ATVs are intended to be use by an operator and a passenger.

ATVs are not "one size fits all." The ATV industry recommends that all riders operate the size and type of ATV designed for their age group. Youth model ATVs are designed for smaller hands and feet, and travel at a slower speeds appropriate for younger riders.

South Carolina ATV Facts:

  • On average, 6 children die from ATV-related injuries in South Carolina each year.
  • From 1999 - 2009, 63 children died from ATV accidents in South Carolina. Nearly 40 percent of those children were age 9 and under.
  • The Consumer Product Safety Commission estimates that 450 children are injured each year in South Carolina on ATVs.
  • Nationally, 95 percent of children killed on ATVs were riding adult-sized ATVs despite industry recommendations.

Source: SC DHEC, Division of Biostatistics and Health GIS

Incorrect ATV Size Causes Many Deaths, Injuries

As ATVs have grown in popularity in recent years, deaths and injuries from ATV accidents have climbed. Nationally the majority of children killed on ATVs were riding adult-sized ATVs, despite industry recommendations. ATV rollovers, collisions and ejections can cause fatalities and serious injuries among children due to their lack of physical strength and motor coordination needed to safely handle an ATV, their limited maturity, and their perceptional and cognitive abilities to react quickly and appropriately in dangerous situations.

ATV Training, Protective Gear Important

It's important to choose the right size ATV, the right protective gear, and receive the right training to protect children from ATV injuries or death. By participating in a hands-on ATV rider safety training, you will learn about protective gear, local regulations, places to ride and environmental concerns pre-ride inspection, starting and stopping, quick turns, hill riding, emergency stopping and swerving and riding over obstacles. For information on ATV Rider Courses nearest you, contact ATV Safety Institute.

"Chandler's Law" ATV Safety Requirements: Effective July 1, 2011

  • Minimum age to operate an ATV is 6 years old
  • Children 16 and under must be accompanied by an adult if riding on public land
  • New requirements for children under age 16:
    • Must complete a hands-on ATV rider safety training course approved by the ATV Safety Institute before operation on an ATV
    • Must wear a safety helmet and eye protection
    • May not ride an ATV in violation of the manufacturer Age Restriction Warning Label required by Specialty Vehicle Institute of America (SVIA)
    • May not carry a passenger on an ATV without a valid driver's license
    • The above requirements, although recommended, do not apply for ATVs in use for farming, ranching, hunting, or trapping
  • On private property, law enforcement officers must have probable cause based on plain view observation or when investigating an ATV accident to enter upon private land to charge a parent with a violation of law.
  • ATVs can be registered with the S.C. Department of Motor Vehicle for purposes of receiving a title. A title makes it easier to prove you own an ATV if it is ever stolen.

**For additional information about the "Chandler's Law", hands-on ATV rider safety training courses, and Q & A for parents and children, please visit

ATV Hands-On Rider Training Providers in South Carolina

ATV Injury Prevention Links:


Safety Transportation