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Everything You Need to Know for Safe ATV Transport

Transporting ATVs requires great care and attention to fine details. When not properly secured, the vehicle’s fastenings could loosen and lead to potential damages. Instead, with some best practices in mind, you can drastically increase your chances of avoiding this. 

Whether you drive a Polaris, Yamaha, or other ATV brand, these motorsports vehicles are significant investments in personal enjoyment and adventure. Protecting your purchase against damage is essential to riding it to its fullest potential. 

To help you better protect your ATVs, here is everything you need to know about safer ATV transport. 

When Transporting on a Truck Bed 

If you have a large enough truck to transport your ATV in its bed, the four-wall enclosure can help prevent it from falling in transit. Furthermore, if you also have a high enough cap covering on your truck bed, this will also protect your vehicle from above. 

For the sake of convenience, let’s assume that you are transporting your ATV in an uncovered truck bed. Here are some tips for safely transporting it this way: 

Use a Sturdy Ramp with a Gradual Incline

There are many types of truck bed ramps available on the market; ranging from wood to metal and single and multiple-piece options. When loading an ATV onto the ramp, you should use one that has a gradual enough incline that you can safely load the vehicle into the truck bed. 

If the incline is too steep, this can create a safety hazard when loading the ATV. For example, if the ATV were to slide back down the ramp while you are riding it up, this could pose a severe risk of injury. 

Fasten the Vehicle Appropriately 

To safely secure your ATV in the truck bed, you should be using tie-downs to collapse its suspension. Here’s how to do that: 

  • Place the tie-downs on both the grab bar in the rear and handlebars at the front. 
  • Tighten the straps to collapse the suspension 
  • Check the front and rear of the ATV to ensure there is tension to prevent it from rolling. 

If Raining, Cover the Bed with a Fastened Tarp or Other Material

In the event you are transporting your ATV on a rainy day, you should cover the truck bed and the vehicle as much as possible. Whether you are fastening a secure tarp or other covering solution, you should keep the bed’s surface dry. This will further keep the vehicle from moving. 

Take Your Time with Everything

You’re probably eager to get to where you are going to ride your ATV. We know that feeling all too well. However, when transporting, you should not ignore the importance of patience. Do not rush loading your ATV, unloading it, or driving to your destination. Avoid taking sharp turns quickly and always slowly ride your vehicle up and down the loading ramp. 

Transporting with a Trailer

If your preferred ATV transport method is a flatbed trailer, the approach will be similar to when loading it to a truck bed, albeit with some noticeable differences. 

Use an Appropriate Ramp

Some trailers with one set of wheels can tilt down toward the ground and do not require a ramp. However, with four-wheeled trailers, you may need a small incline. Use a ramp that can safely bear the weight of the ATV and gradually move it onto the trailer’s surface. 

Tie the ATV Down 

Before you begin, make sure that all trailer walls are in their proper and secure position once the ATV is loaded onto the trailer bed. 

Once loaded, take your ratchet straps and secure the vehicle at points like the rear grab bar or front bumper. Avoid using the vehicle’s axels as anchor points. Secure the tie-downs at the four corners of the trailer and adjust them until there is evenly distributed tension across each one. 

Take Slow Turns on the Road

When you are towing a trailer to your destination, remember this will require wider turns and more careful driving. There is no need to rush to where you are going. 

Driving Your ATV in Street Legal States

ATVs are deemed street legal in some states. In Idaho, as long as the proper qualifications are met, a rider can take their ATV on the roads. The Idaho Department of Parks and Recreation outline the laws as such: 

Public Trails

  • A valid IDPR Off-highway Vehicle (OHV) certificate of number sticker for residents and nonresidents
  • A DOT-approved helmet for riders under 18 
  • A muffler and Forest Service-approved spark arrester. Mufflers must be at or below 96dB at the half-meter test also. 

State and Federal Roads 

  • OHV Education Certificate for unlicensed riders (Forest Service Roads) 
  • Valid driver’s license (not required for riders under 16 with adult supervision). The licensed adult supervisor must be riding another OHV close by or within 300 feet of the operator riding without a license. 
  • Liability insurance or another suitable alternative type of coverage. 
  • Valid IDPR OHV certificate of number sticker for resident and nonresident.
  • A DOT-approved helmet for riders under 18 
  • Forest Service-approved spark arrestor and a muffler at or below 96dB at the half-meter test. 

City & County Roads

  • Valid restricted vehicle license plate. More information on this here
  • Valid IDPR OHV certificate of number sticker adhered to restricted vehicle license plate for both residents and nonresidents. 
  • Valid driver’s license
  • Liability insurance or other suitable alternative coverage. 
  • DOT-approved helmet for those under age 18
  • Muffler and US Forest Service-approved spark arrester. Muffler must register below 96dB at half-meter test. 
  • Recommended vehicle features: 
    • Brakelight 
    • Headlights and taillights 
    • Horn that is clearly audible at 200 feet 
    • Mirror capable of showing 200 feet behind the OHV 

The IDPR also recommends that riders check with municipal governments for any further local ordinances that may affect operating an ATV on roadways. Idaho law also requires that all riders without a valid driver’s license must take an OHV safety course for riding on all US Forest Service roads and that riders under 15 must be supervised by an adult. 

For Safest ATV Transport, Use Another Vehicle

While the above information indicates that you technically can ride ATVs on roadways in Idaho, it is still recommended that you use another street-legal transportation method like a truck bed or trailer. ATVs may not be able to adequately meet and sustain appropriate speeds for safe travel on certain roads.

Please note that, if you can ride ATVs on roadways in your state, that you should also use all appropriate safety gear like helmets, gloves, boots, and other protective equipment. 

Have More Questions About ATV Transport? Ask Away!

We believe the best way to enjoy the outdoors is to do so safely. To learn more about how to properly transport ATVs to your next adventure destination, feel free to reach out with questions and ask us at any time. 


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