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A girl walking towards her RZR EFI 200
Riding Tips January 31, 2024

YOUTH 4-WHEELER, ATV AND SXS SAFETY GUIDE

Safety Tips And Essential Riding Gear For Kids

Kids love to explore, and off-road vehicles are designed for exploration. Naturally, empowering kids with their own youth four-wheeler, ATV or side-by-side can be a great way to build their confidence, encourage their curiosity, and nurture their love of outdoor family activities. Off-roading is tons of fun, but of course, it’s important to prioritize safety. 

 

At Polaris, we take your family’s safety seriously. That’s why we’ve put together this guide to safer family rides. It includes information on safety courses in your area, choosing the right protective gear—like finding a helmet that fits—and other essentials like goggles, gloves, boots and more. Plus, we’ll explore some of latest safety features available for 4-wheelers, ATVs and side-by-sides—features that offer kids a safer ride and parents peace of mind.  

Collage of Polaris Off-Road Youth Vehicles in action
Collage of Polaris Off-Road Youth Vehicles in action

Youth ATV & SxS Safety Courses & Training

Off-road vehicle safety training is a critical step in ensuring kids have a safer and more enjoyable riding experience. Youth ATV and SxS course are not just nice-to-haves, they're important steppingstones for confident and responsible riding. 

 

These courses go beyond basic rules and teach your child valuable skills—from understanding vehicle controls and proper riding techniques to navigating obstacles and practicing emergency maneuvers. They emphasize the importance of proper protective gear, responsible trail etiquette, and environmental awareness. Parents can breathe easier knowing their kids are equipped with the knowledge and skills to handle a range of scenarios, minimizing the risk of accidents, and maximizing the fun. 

 

For families seeking reputable safety training resources, various certified organizations and accredited training centers offer tailored courses for young riders. The Safety Institute (ASI) and Recreational Off-Highway Vehicle Association (ROHVA) are excellent starting points to find certified instructors and approved safety courses designed specifically for youth riders. We also recommend checking with your state’s department of natural resources for available safety programs and guidelines. Local dealers or ATV clubs could be a good resource, too.  

 

Investing in safety training is an investment in your child's well-being and in countless future adventures. With the right skills and knowledge, young riders can navigate the thrilling world of off-roading with confidence and responsibility—so they entire family can have more worry free, off-road fun. 

Diagram for riding safety items
PROTECTIVE RIDING GEAR FOR YOUTH

Proper riding gear is important for any rider, but it’s a critical component to youth safety. As a parent or guardian, you’ll not only want to ensure your young rider has all the gear described here, but also ensure its proper fit. Poorly fitting clothing can minimize its protective capabilities, restrict movement and even obstruct vision.

 

Protective gear reduces the chance of injury.

 

The driver and passenger must wear:

Helmet

Eye protection

Long-sleeve shirt

Long pants

Gloves

Over-the-ankle boots

For more information about what to wear when riding off-road, check out what to wear when off-roading.

ATV & SxS Helmets for Kids

Wearing a helmet is crucial for any rider, including you and your kids, and can prevent severe head injury. Whenever your child is riding in or is operating an off-road vehicle, they should always wear a helmet that meets or exceeds established safety standards. Always buckle and pull straps tight to ensure the helmet is secured. Parents and supervising adults should verify that the provided helmets fit properly. If a helmet doesn't fit, get a new one in the right size. Approved helmets in the USA and Canada bear a U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) label.

 

Check out our helmet buying guide to find their perfect fit, and yours.

Riding Goggles or Protective Visor for Kids

It’s important that you do not depend on kids’ eyeglasses or sunglasses for eye protection. Whenever your child is riding in or driving an off-road vehicle, they should always be wearing shatterproof goggles or use a shatterproof helmet face shield to protect against everything from flying debris to dust that can obscure a driver’s vision. We recommend wearing approved Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) bearing markings such as VESC 8, V-8, Z87.1, or CE. And of course, always make sure their protective eyewear is kept clean.

Long-Sleeve Riding Gear and Long Pants for Kids

Long sleeves and long pants are part of the safety package for youth off-roading. Like boots and gloves, they help keep rugged elements of the off road from hitting drivers’ skin. They also provide protection from the sun, wind, cold weather and other elements kids may encounter while riding. The good news is that there are plenty of great off-roading jerseys and apparel that let youth establish and show off their own off-roading style.

Riding Gloves for Kids

Even under moderate speed, a 4-wheeler ATV or side-by-side can kick up dirt, mud and other off-road debris. Riding gloves will protect your child’s hands whether they are riding or driving, and can provide added comfort after a full day of gripping the handlebars, steering wheel or a passenger grab handle. Plus, gloves offer protection from sun, cold weather and other elements. There are tons of styles and colors to choose from, so finding something that makes them feel like a seasoned off-roader is relatively easy.

Riding Boots or Shoes with Support for Kids

There are some definite no’s when it comes to footwear. Never ride an off-road vehicle with sandals, flip-flops or open-toed shoes—and definitely no bare feet. Kids should wear sturdy over-the-ankle boots for support and protection. Off-road debris can occasionally be kicked up into the cab, so they’ll want their feet and ankles behind a layer of leather or other sturdy shoe material. Give a little consideration to breathability too— a long day of off-road riding can be hard on the comfort of anyone’s feet.

Polaris Off-Road Youth Lineup
Polaris Off-Road Youth Lineup

Choosing the Right ATV or Side-By-Side for Your Child

Now that you have a good grasp on the gear for your aspiring off-roader, you might want to put some consideration into their ride. Unless your child is at least 16 years old and has a valid driver's license, they aren’t able to drive your adult ATV or SxS vehicle—so you’re looking for a youth vehicle. Finding the type of ride (ATV or side-by-side) that is appropriate for their age is also an essential safety component. It’s important your child can reach all the controls comfortably and remain in control of the vehicle at all times.


There are also some exciting new technologies being introduced to youth ATVs and side-by-sides. Look for Polaris vehicles with parental controls like speed-limiting to keep kids at or below the speed you establish, geo-fencing which lets you create virtual boundaries where the vehicle can operate, and GPS tracking so you always know where they are riding. There’s even a relatively new technology called Helmet Aware that uses Bluetooth® Technology to monitor helmet use. Parents can then prohibit riding if a helmet is not being used.

A young kid riding his Outlaw 70 EFI on the road
A young kid riding his Outlaw 70 EFI on the road

Time to Get Out There Together

The most important lesson about rider safety is that it’s not a one-day course or consideration. It’s an everyday necessity for all riders—from kids to adults. Start teaching your children when they are young about rider safety and be sure to show them how to love and respect the outdoors—just like you do.

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