An ATV (All-Terrain Vehicle) is a vehicle defined by its single passenger seat and the ability to drive off road and go on all terrains. However, its less popular cousin, the UTV (Utility Terrain Vehicle), is catching up in terms of popularity, especially with all the workers using it.
UTV vehicles are designed to seat both a driver and a passenger, meaning that they are bigger, and while they are still designed to work on all terrains, they are also designed to haul things. Because they hold a passenger and often carry heavy loads, UTVs have plenty of interesting safety features and new pieces of technology that allow them to do what they do and do it well, and this article is going to go through some of those features.
We are going to look through the basic, advanced, and cutting-edge in terms of UTV safety features and technologies and also explain why they are so important to have whenever you are purchasing your own UTV. So, let’s get started!
UTV Safety Basics
Driving UTVs always comes with a risk, and while it might seem like a car because of its enclosed roof and a larger frame, that doesn’t mean you can skimp on safety because it can still be very dangerous depending on what terrain you are driving on.
A UTV is designed to be driven like a car, while ATVs are more for off-roading and having some fun. Since a UTV is less about fun and more about completing work, you need to be safe while driving with it.
The most common problem with the UTV is going to be overturning, and while the risk increases a bit while you drive the vehicle, the more cargo you are hauling, the greater the risk of overturning the vehicle is. When the UTV overturns, even if you have your UTV equipped with common safety gear, you will still run a high risk of injury.
Due to the weight changes that come whenever the UTV begins to haul things across rough terrain, another common injury is that passengers can be thrown from the UTV due to a sudden stop or a bump on the terrain that causes the vehicle to overturn or move faster than it should.
The safety standards of the common UTV are often in the owner’s manual, but it is very similar to driving a car.
First, always have your eye on the speed limit as well as the road conditions. A UTV on a flat road will handle differently than one going up a mountain path. Additionally, towing a load with your UTV means that there is an additional safety risk and that will affect how your UTV handles on the road.
For example, you need to make sure that the cargo box is correctly loaded and attached to the UTV to give the vehicle good traction to drive and stop your UTV. Additionally, you need to move your UTV at a slower speed than you would without a load to make sure that you will be able to maintain control while driving.
Finally, every single UTV has a weight limit whenever it comes to towing, so make sure to read the manual to look at the recommendations.
What is a UTV?
A UTV (Utility Terrain Vehicle) is a four-wheeled off-road vehicle that can both hold an extra passenger and tow cargo and has been used in various fields of industry.
How dangerous are UTVs?
UTVs are dangerous due to the risk of the vehicle being overturned and rolling over. During a rollover event, many passengers are thrown from the vehicle and suffer severe injuries as a result.
How can I reduce the risk of injury while driving a UTV?
When driving a UTV, slower is better. While an ATV is designed to be ridden and raced, a UTV is designed to get cargo and people to where they need to go. Slow and steady will allow you to take advantage of what a UTV has to offer without having a massive risk of injury.
What UTV safety equipment do I need?
A first aid kit and a fire extinguisher are two pieces of safety equipment that you need to operate a UTV safely, along with a winch and a tire repair kit. Finally, you can enclose your UTV with a roof on all sides, which can reduce the injuries from a rollover.
Advanced UTV Safety Features
The most common risk that people face when driving UTVs is the risk of a rollover, where the vehicle flips over. And the more cargo you tow, and the faster you go on rougher terrain, the greater the risk of a UTV turnover is.
The first line of defense against a turnover is a good seat belt, but you need a specialized UTV seatbelt because they come with pads and harnesses that will keep you in your seat in the event of a crash.
Instead, they are more like harnesses that go over both your arms and across your chest, and they can keep you in the vehicle if a rollover occurs. ALWAYS wear your seatbelt when riding in a UTV because that will save your life.
Another thing that can save your life and that is easy to install on your UTV is a roll cage, which is a protective cage made of metal that can be attached to the UTV’s top. It protects both the drivers and passengers from the effects of a rollover crash because it is designed to be and stay sturdy when the rest of the car crumbles.
The brake system of your UTV works like the traditional brake system in a car, where brake fluid is pushed through the brake lines, and that uses friction to stop the UTV. The suspension system in the UTV is extremely important because it will absorb all the bumps and impacts as you move your cargo around off-road. If you need to get your brakes replaced, don't wait!
For driving your UTV around at night, lights are important. Both for your safety when driving and for others around you.
There are cube, bar, and whip lights that all have their advantages and disadvantages, and many areas outright require extra light when you ride around at night. So, studying up on what the different lights do and how to attach them to your UTV is a good idea.
The electronic stability control system is what helps the UTV respond to the movements you make while driving, and if the two are out of alignment, then the stability control system tries to bring the UTV and your actions back together.
What are the most important UTV safety features?
The most important UTV safety features are the seatbelts and the rollover cage because they will protect you from the UTV overturning and being involved in a rollover crash.
Can I install safety features in my existing UTV?
Yes, there are plenty of safety kits that you can buy to install your seat belts, roller bars, roller cages, lights, and more to your existing UTV. Just make sure you know what you are doing and call upon a professional if you are unsure because you don’t want to make a mistake with safety features.
How much do UTV safety features cost?
A prebuilt UTV roll cage can cost anywhere from 500-1000 dollars, seatbelt harnesses for UTVs can cost around 100 dollars, and the lights can cost 50-200 dollars..
Do all UTVs have electronic stability control?
No, only the newer UTV models have this feature. For older models, you need to ask before you buy them.
Latest UTV Safety Technologies
With the advent and rise of all of the electronic safety technologies for cars and other vehicles on the road, some of that will bleed over into the world of UTVs as well. Most of this tech is designed to prevent or mitigate damage from accidents. For example, Bluetooth helmets exist that won’t allow the UTV to start unless the driver is wearing one.
You can also buy an app based UTV tracking system. Then you will get a real-time look at your UTV no matter where it is, perfect if you want to track the driver or if your UTV gets stolen.
Finally, with the danger of rollovers and crashes from impacts that can happen on your UTV, you will need an electronic collision avoidance system that will be able to provide warnings if you are departing your lane, about to crash into a pedestrian, or are too unstable while going off-road.
Now, with all the fuss happening over self-driving cars, what about self-driving UTVs? There have been several attempts to incorporate the two technologies over the years, and while there have been advances in self-driving ATVs (including Honda showing off an Autonomous Work Vehicle at the 2020 World of Concrete Event. As well as dolaGons attempts to make a self-driving UTV), not a whole lot of new technology has been made for UTVs, and most of it is still in the idea phase.
Finally, the fields of telematics and data analytics are working on analyzing every vehicle both on and off the road. To capture the location, speed, acceleration and braking, and vehicle faults, and then go over them, especially in the case of a crash. Because if companies know the events and factors that led to a UTV turnover or crash, then they can better design their vehicles to avoid these fates.
What are the benefits of using GPS and tracking systems in UTVs?
If you ever have your UTV stolen, or need to leave it unattended for a while you go make sure that the cargo is where it needs to be for loading, then having a tracking system will allow you to get back to the vehicle without worry… and without spending valuable time looking for it.
What are the most advanced UTV collision avoidance systems?
One of the most common collision avoidance systems for nearly all UTVs (and other vehicles) is the ADAS+ Advanced Driver Assistance System. You can quickly mount it on your UTV and get all the protection it provides.
Are autonomous UTVs commercially available?
Not yet, many of them have prototypes and even working models available, but they are not commercially available to the public.
How can telematics and data analytics improve UTV safety?
By analyzing the most common events and factors that lead up to a crash or a rollover impact, the companies that build UTVs can see those patterns and then attempt to design their vehicles, so the rate of crashes and overturns goes down.
UTV safety has come a long way, and it is still growing to this day. However, if you want to ride in a UTV, whether you plan to drive it for cargo or just to have another all-terrain option, you still need to stick to the commonsense methods to be safe in any motor vehicle. So, make sure to wear a seat belt, always watch your speed, and install rollover cages and other implements to prevent crashes and overturns.
Otherwise, once you do all of that, don’t be afraid to have some good and safe fun riding and working with your UTV!
Are UTVs safe?
Yes, UTVs are safe to drive, if you follow the directions in the owner’s manual and fit out either yourself or your UTV with safety features.
How can I stay safe while driving a UTV?
Watch the speed limit, be mindful of the road conditions, and if you are towing cargo be extra careful.
What should I do if I am in a UTV accident?
If you are inside of a UTV accident, then you need to get looked at by a doctor. Once your health is confirmed to be okay, if you find that the crash involved multiple vehicles, then you need to treat the accident just as a car accident. Collect insurance information and contact a lawyer if needed.
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