OHV Safety

Off-Highway Vehicle Safety

  1. Section applies only to operations of OHVs on public lands.
  2. Any person operating an OHV as permitted in this section who has not attained 16 years of age must be supervised by an adult while operating the OHV.
  3. Effective July 1, 2008, while operating an OHV, a person who has not attained 16 years of age must have in his or her possession a certificate evidencing the satisfactory completion of an approved OHV safety course in this state or another jurisdiction.  A non-resident who has not attained 16 years of age and who is in this state temporarily for a period not to exceed 30 days is exempt from this subsection.  Nothing contained in this Chapter shall prohibit an agency from requiring additional safety education courses for all operators. This applies only to operations of OHVs on public lands.

More about Florida Statute 261.20 and riding on public lands*:

It is a violation of this section:

  • To carry a passenger on an off-highway vehicle, unless the machine is specifically designed by the manufacturer to carry an operator and a single passenger.
  • To operate an off-highway vehicle while under the influence of alcohol, a controlled substance, or any prescription or over-the-counter drug that impairs vision or motor condition.
  • For a person who has not attained 16 years of age, to operate an off-highway vehicle without wearing eye protection, over-the-ankle boots, and a safety helmet that is approved by the United States Department of Transportation or Snell Memorial Foundation.
  • To operate an off-highway vehicle in a careless or reckless manner that endangers or causes injury or damage to another person or property.

* Any person who violates this section commits a noncriminal infraction and is subject to a fine of not less than $100 and may have his or her privilege to operate an ATV on public lands revoked. However, a person who commits such acts with intent to defraud, or who commits a second or subsequent violation, is subject to a fine of not less than $500 and may have his or her privilege to operate an ATV on public lands revoked.

What does this mean?

If you have a child under the age of 16 years that is going to operate an OHV on public lands, then they need to complete an approved safety training course. In Florida, an OHV is defined as an All-Terrain Vehicle (ATV), Off-Highway Motorcycle (OHM), or Recreational Off-Highway Vehicle (ROV). To register or find training schedules and locations in Florida contact the ASI (ATV Safety Institute).

OHV Safety Guidelines

While some safety guidelines may be required by law, good riding means planning, safety and following guidelines like these:

  • Always ride within your abilities.
  • Dress to spill- wear appropriate protective gear.
  • Travel in a group of two or more riders.
  • One rider per machine (unless the machine is designed for two).
  • Riders under 16 years old should always be supervised by an adult.
  • Do not ride a machine that is too big for you.
  • Always provide someone with a ride plan. This should include where and when you are riding, as well as a return time and date.
  • Be in shape to take all the punishments a trail will offer. Be prepared to walk out in case of breakdown.
  • Prepare for the unexpected- your emergency kit should include the items in the Trip Planning Checklist.
  • Check the weather forecast before leaving.
  • Do not drink alcohol and ride.
  • Obey all traffic and information signs.

Safety Links

Florida's Safety Certification Courses

Florida currently has training courses approved to provide the necessary safety training and important environmental awareness education. An ATV or dirt bike safety training certification card will be given to those who are age 6 and older who have successfully completed an ATV or dirt bike safety training course. Florida State Statutes require an OHV Safety Certification Card for riders under 16 years of age to ride Off-Highway Vehicles on public lands.

All ATV training courses and information are provided by:

  • ATV Safety Institute (ASI): ATV Rider Course as well as online E-Courses for ATV safety certification for adults, teens, and children. Website: www.atvsafety.org. Telephone: 1-888-517-9618
  • Dirt Bike School: Motorcycle Safety Foundation. Website: www.dirtbikeschool.org, Florida Toll Free Telephone: 1-888-517-9618
  • The National Youth Project Using Minibikes (NYPUM). Website: www.nypum.org, Telephone: 1-800-75-NYPUM (756-9786), or
    Email: info@nypum.org. NYPUM Safety Training Certification is an approved OHV Course in Florida.

WHAT YOU MUST BRING

  • Safety gear to include: a DOT approved helmet or Snell Foundation Helmet, goggles and or a face shield, over the ankle boots, riding gloves, long pants, and long sleeved shirt.
  • Parent must be in attendance for children 11 years and younger.
  • Liquids and snacks to replenish students.

WHAT YOUR CHILD WILL LEARN

The ATV Safety Institute's (ASI) ATV Rider Course is about 4.5 hours long. Students practice safety techniques with hands on exercises covering starting, stopping, swerving, and riding over obstacles. Particular emphasis is place on the safety. The course covers protective gear, environmental protection of resource concerns, and local and state laws. Each rider receives an ATV Rider Course Handbook which reinforces the safety information and riding techniques covered in the course. The instructional materials, as well as the course curriculum, have been designed in consultation with the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC).

The ATV Safety Institute also offers three age specific e-learning courses to address basic ATV safety principles. Adults, teens and children will learn how to apply the "golden rules" of ATV riding and includes videos, pictures, and interactive games. After taking the course, users can take an ATV safety exam and receive a certificate of completion. Find out more.

Students that enroll in the MSF DirtBike School learn hands on rider training with emphasis on safety and skill development for off-highway motorcycles.  Students also discuss responsible riding practices including risk management and environmental awareness.  Each of these courses are instructed at a controlled off-highway riding site specifically designed for the course and last 4 to 6 hours.