Fatal accidents involving OHVs reach highest level in more than a decade

As the state’s number of fatal accidents involving off-highway vehicles (OHVs) reaches the highest level in more than a decade, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources reminds riders to play it safe and take proper safety precautions.

“We’re seeing riders of all ages and abilities out on the trails this year, which is great,” said Jon Paurus, DNR Enforcement Division education program coordinator. “For the most part, people are taking the proper precautions and riding safely. Unfortunately, one seemingly minor mishap can be the difference between a positive memory and a life-changing catastrophe.”

Fall is one of the busiest times of year for OHV riding, and DNR conservation officers want to make sure all riders make it home safely at the end of every ride. The number of fatal accidents to date already outpaces many years’ annual totals.

As of Sept. 3, 19 people in Minnesota have died in OHV accidents this year. By comparison, the average number of fatalities annually for the past decade is 18.

The number of registered OHVs – which includes all-terrain vehicles (ATVs), off-highway motorcycles and off-road vehicles – continues to rise in Minnesota. The total in 2019 was 329,275. ATVs are the most popular type, and so far this year there are nearly 24,000 new registrations.

As they work to keep the trails safe, conservation officers across the state report increased numbers of interactions with OHV riders. Among the most common issues they’re encountering are people riding too fast, riding where they’re not supposed to ride, and failing to obey traffic signs. In addition, there’s been a concerning trend of riders under the age of 18 not wearing helmets.

OHV riders should keep the following in mind before hitting the trail:

  • Ride only on designated trails. Stay to the right and travel at a safe speed.
  • Ride sober.
  • Wear protective gear including goggles, long sleeves, long pants, over-the-ankle boots, gloves and a DOT-approved helmet.
  • Avoid riding on paved roads except to cross when done safely and permitted by law.
  • Kids need active supervision – OHVs aren’t toys.
  • Complete a safety course.

For more information about riding safely, see mndnr.gov/ohv/atv-safety.html.