Whether for sport or for fun, riding all-terrain vehicles (ATVs) is a popular activity during good-weather months. It can be easy to forget that riding ATVs is dangerous; they should not be treated like toys. While you, your friends, and family have fun riding, you should remember that serious accidents can happen if proper safety precautions are ignored.\nIn fact, nearly 500 ATV-related fatalities happen in the United States each year, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission. To make sure you and your fellow riders remain unharmed, follow these safety tips every time you ride.\n1. Never ride alone\nWhile you shouldn\u2019t take passengers on your ATV, you should find at least one other person with a vehicle to ride alongside you. The nature of ATV riding means that accidents are likely, from running out of gas to serious crashes. It\u2019s always a good idea to have a buddy who can help you get out of a tough spot.\n2. Make sure your ATV is the right one for you\nATVs come in a variety of sizes and types. When choosing one, consider what you\u2019re using it for (Trail riding? Racing? Towing?) and factor in your skill and strength level. Larger ATVs require much more strength and control to manage, and smaller machines have less power. Children under 16 should not operate ATVs with engines larger than 90cc.\n3. Only ride within your capabilities\nDon\u2019t attempt tricks or stunts requiring more experience or skill than you have, and don\u2019t ride in areas you can\u2019t easily navigate. Even though ATVs are designed for off-roading, stick to established trails. You never know what obstacles you could meet if you stray too far from the beaten path.\n4. Don\u2019t ride on public roads\nRiding on paved\/public roads and\u00a0deviating too far from trails can be just as dangerous, because it\u2019s all too easy for other vehicles to hit you.\u00a0Take care when crossing paved roads and only do so where legal.\n5. Wear proper gear\nA Department of Transportation-approved helmet, goggles, gloves, long pants and sleeves, and over-the-ankle boots should always be worn while riding. Ensuring your body is properly protected can help keep you safe if an accident does happen.\n6. Stay alert\nMinimize accidents by not riding under the influence of drugs or alcohol. You should also stop riding if you feel extremely tired. Look straight ahead while your ATV is in motion so you\u2019re aware of all upcoming obstacles. Also be aware of where other riders are around you and know the experience level of other riders around you.\n7. No passengers allowed\nUnless your ATV is specially designed for two riders, don\u2019t take any passengers when you\u2019re riding \u2014 doing so endangers their safety and yours.\n8. People under 16 shouldn\u2019t be left unsupervised\nRemember that ATVs are dangerous, powerful machines. Since 1982, approximately a quarter of all ATV-related fatalities were children younger than 16, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission. Additionally, about a quarter of ATV-related injuries in recent years happened to children under 16. Accordingly, children should never ride alone and should always be supervised by an adult.\nBefore you start riding, it\u2019s a good idea to enroll in a hands-on ATV safety course to learn the basics and help prevent ATV accidents. Learn more by visiting the UPMC Trauma Care System website.