ATV LOADING AND UNLOADING GENERAL SAFETY TIPS
Published in the Delta Wind - March 27,2014
Greetings from the friendly staff at Delta Powersports, your local dealer for off road fun! While we are thrilled that you are preparing to hit the trails with your toys this summer, we must repeat the popular phrase ignored by some and underestimated by most: SAFETY FIRST. A failure to observe the basic duties of a responsible rider could place you or a loved one at great risk.
There are lengthy lists of protocols and practices that should be considered while operating a recreational vehicle, and today we will discuss just one aspect…the surprisingly under-rated task of loading and unloading your ATV or side by side. Naturally, the first rule that applies here is to use what is known as your common sense. However, we have witnessed many excited powersport enthusiasts ignore these concerns, as they possess a strong disdain for this so called ‘common sense,’ or this ‘sense’ seems to be completely undeveloped. Allow us to outline some of the basics.
Park on a surface as close to level as possible. Whether you are unloading form the bed of your truck or from a trailer, parking on various slopes will only complicate the process by adding unwanted angles. It is more difficult to ensure good stability on your ramps if they are fighting a sideways slope, as well as the intended slope from the tailgate to the ground. Many riders will back up to a bank or a hill of some sort to help minimize the angle they are dealing with. If there is no such place available, seeking out the least rough terrain for parking is the first step to maximizing your safety.
Make sure your ramps are long enough to work well. The longer the ramps are the shallower the angle the vehicle must traverse in the unloading and loading process. Ramps that are too short, may also increase the chances of a vehicle becoming high centered or hanging up on the skid plate as it leaves the truck bed and rolls downward on the ramps. Many people use wooden planks or other homemade jigs in the place of commercial loading ramps. Whatever the case, make certain that your ramps are capable of holding more weight by a large margin, than the listed weight of your machine. If your loading ramps do not anchor to the trailer or tailgate via safety straps or pins, you must make the best effort to ensure the ramps cannot move away from the trailer or tailgate during the loading and unloading action. If ATV tires should spin during this transition, a ramp may kick away from its perch, resulting in most likely in a rollover sideways or backwards. Injury would be probable. Never use unsecured ramps.
Use a trailer if you have one to use. Trailer beds are generally lower than the average tailgate, and as a result, increase your chances of loading and unloading safely.
Don’t suddenly change gears while on the ramps, and don’t blip the throttle or surprise the brakes. Any sudden movement transferred to the tires could result in the disruption of the ramps. If you need to use 4x4, it is important to place the transmission in 4x4 before you start. If you must ride the machine, sit down if possible and take it slow. Avoid sudden moves while on the ramps. If you hit the brakes or an obstacle while standing, you may be jostled forward and into the throttle, resulting in loss of control, increasing you chances of injury. Line yourself up with the ramps prior to placing your wheels on them to avoid needing to turn the ATV while on the ramps.
Take the music out of your ears if needed, and make sure you have a good visual of your surroundings before attempting to use the ramps. If something should go wrong and an accident is eminent, it is best if possible to minimize personal injury by jumping away from the machine and letting it fall without you on it. Do not try to prevent damage to the machine at the risk of your own well being.
Check your ramps twice. Don’t be in a rush. Don’t get lazy and overlook the necessity of simple things like safety straps and parking brakes. If you are not familiar with the machines you are handling, ask someone for help. And even if you are familiar, use you common sense and you’ll be fine. Have fun and as always, safety first.