A new ATV training initiative has been launched by a group of leading manufacturers in an effort to boost rider safety.

The Outdoor Power and Equipment Council (OPEC) recognises that ATVs are perceived to have a poor safety record.

Consequently five of its members – Honda, Yamaha, Suzuki, Kawasaki and Polaris – have clubbed together to back a European ATV Safety Institute (EASI) training course.

Each time a new or second-hand quad bike is sold through a franchised dealer the customer will be offered the opportunity to attend the course free of charge or at a discounted rate.

Although not an in-depth off-road tuition programme, the EASI rider course will teach new operators – and remind experienced ones – about routine safety checks and safe riding practices.

More detailed skills training courses from organisations such as LANTRA are available to qualify riders for off-road use and load-carrying/trailer towing.

However this new initiative gives a basic overview and scores well with the HSE.

Road legal?

With the increasing use of ATVs as road-going vehicles, OPEC is keen to clear up the issues concerning their legality and now divides what are commonly known as quad-bikes into two categories – ATVs and Quadricycles.

ATVs are described as multi-purpose off-road vehicles. As long as they are used for agricultural, horticultural, forestry, aqua-cultural or utility tasks and weigh in at under 1000kg, they can be registered for road use without modification as a Light Agricultural Vehicle – LAV.

ATV on-road use is then restricted to journeys of no more than 1.5km and maximum speeds of 15mph.

This is limited to daylight hours unless a road-lighting kit is fitted in which case speeds of up to 20mph are allowed day or night.

Vehicles designated as Quadricycles must be purpose-designed for road use and can then be registered in the Private Light Goods – PLG – category.

These are generally for leisure or on-road work use and as such require approval from the Vehicle Certification Agency.

Their weight must not exceed 400kg or 550kg if used for goods-carrying.

Power is restricted to 20hp and lights, tyres and brakes must meet strict safety standards.

Thankfully most farm bikes will fall into the first category unless there is a requirement to cover distances greater than 1.5km on the road.

A quad used solely for game-keeping or amenity duties would fall into the second category.

fwmachinery@rbi.co.uk

For more information visit www.quadsafety.org or www.lantra.co.uk