ATV etiquette — winning friends on the trail

Lynn Blamires
ATV Adventures
(LYNN BLAMIRES courtesy photo)
Larry Sanders (left) and Gary Riddle stop with the group on the Arapeen...
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Participating in any sport requires a measure of responsibility as a role model. It is a natural consequence of being involved and occurs whether the person likes it or not. When a person mounts an ATV and moves out onto the trail, an observer will form an opinion. It is important to be a good ambassador for your sport.

Here are some rules that will help make friends on the trail:

Tread Lightly: Stay on the trail and plan your ride so that you know where to go when you get there. Leave an area cleaner than you find it and pack out what you pack in.

Never ride alone: This is not only a safety rule, it is a rule of etiquette. Help is close if you have a breakdown or run out of gas when you are riding with a buddy. When riding in a group, remember that you are responsible for the rider behind you. Don’t leave a junction until you know he is following.

Keep dust to a minimum: Enough dust is made by riding normally. Don’t “dust” other riders by trying to pass while the line is moving and don’t “roost” other riders by throwing dirt and rock from a quick start. If you like to eat dust by tailgating, remember it is not just dirt on your face and grit in your teeth, but also dirt on the air filter of your machine.

Your place in line is not reserved: When riding with a group, choose your position when the leader starts the ride. If you don’t like your spot in the line, take a new position when the group restarts from a rest stop. Don’t try to pass while the line is moving. Not only do you create extra dust, but you distract the riders you are passing.

Pull off the trail in a safe place when stopping: Allow plenty of room for other riders on the trail to pass through safely. Choosing a spot to stop for a rest is critical. Coming over a hill or around a blind curve and finding a group of riders blocking the trail is not a pleasant surprise.

Downhill riders yield to uphill riders: Uphill riders have momentum. If they have to stop, the risk of goosing the throttle and bringing the front end up is greater than for the downhill rider who only has to release the brake. If you meet a rider coming up a hill you are descending, pull over and let them continue.

The last few riders need to indicate their place in line: When I lead a large group and come upon other riders, I will stop and indicate the number of riders in my group so they are aware, even though there might be gaps in the line. The last few riders should hold up fingers showing the number of riders remaining. The last rider should hold up a fist showing he is the last rider in the group.

Approaching horsemen or cattle: Horses and cattle will spook if improperly approached. It is important to pull off the trail, turn off your machine, remove your helmet, dismount, and speak in a normal voice to the rider. The horse needs to know that you are human. It will make it easier for the horseman to handle his horse. I have gained the respect of horsemen not only on the trail, but in cattle drives by following these rules. It is easier to negotiate passage while allowing them to continue their drive without interruption. When meeting a horseman on a trail, let him move past some distance before donning your helmet and restarting your machine. When approaching cattle on the trail, slow down, see what they are going to do, and pass slowly. Don’t purposely annoy them.

When you go, treat others the way you would like to be treated. It will make a difference in winning friends on the trail. Take plenty of water, keep the rubber side down, and be an ambassador for your sport.

You may contact Lynn Blamires at

Lynn Blamires


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