The terms ATV and UTV are often used interchangeably. However, the vehicles differ in several ways. Each one serves a different purpose which has an impact on insurance requirements. If you own one or both of the vehicles, you need to know whether ATV insurance or UTV insurance is necessary.
Primarily, people drive ATVs and UTVs on the owner’s private property. But, certain usage scenarios can dictate the need for proper insurance. In this article, we’ll talk about the differences between ATVs and UTVs and the SC laws on insurance for each of the vehicles.
ATVs and UTVs: What Are Their Differences?
ATV is an acronym for All-Terrain Vehicle used mainly for recreational purposes. ATVs are three or four-wheeled, off-road vehicles. They feature a straddle seat and handlebar steering. All-terrain vehicles can maneuver on a variety of surfaces. Typically, ATVs carry one rider only. However, some will accommodate one passenger as well.
UTV is an acronym for Utility Terrain Vehicle used primarily for work or hauling. UTVs are larger than ATVs and have room for passengers to sit side-by-side. They have extra space for storage and can haul supplies or equipment to places where big trucks can’t go.
ATV Features and Uses
As a quick mode of transportation, an ATV can be dangerous without certain precautions and safety equipment. Most important, an ATV’s size should be appropriate for its operator. Here are some other safety concerns you should be aware of:
Acceleration and Braking – Most ATVs have a thumb throttle which controls acceleration. This type of throttle makes it easy to accidentally twist the control while going downhill. When this happens, the vehicle’s speed suddenly increases, and the driver will be thrown from the vehicle. Furthermore, the vehicle may then roll on the person.
To slow or stop an ATV, the driver can use the foot pedal or the brake handle. However, sudden stops can result in locked wheels and accidents. Specific instructions for ATV braking are provided for your safety. Make sure to read the instructions carefully before hitting the trail.
Safety Equipment – Not all ATVs come with protective equipment such as roll bars. For this reason, ATV operators must wear safety gear that includes helmets, boots, gloves, and protective clothing.
UTV Features and Uses
People drive UTVs for work or recreation. They are more powerful than ATVs and may have four or more wheels. Unlike an ATV, the UTV has a steering wheel rather than handlebars. The seating capacity allows two or four passengers to ride side-by-side, hence the nickname SxS.
Acceleration and Braking – Both are controlled by foot pedals, similar to a car.
Safety Equipment – Most UTVs come standard with seatbelts and the option to add safety features such as roll bars and windshields. Some UTVS come with a cabin that is similar to a golf cart. However, fully enclosed cabins may be added.
Although UTVs are faster than ATVs and can reach speeds of 25 to 50 mph, they are not as nimble as their counterparts.
SC Laws and Requirements for ATV Insurance
A report from the Consumer Product Safety Commission shows hat more than 450 children are injured annually in South Carolina due to ATV accidents. Approximately 95% of the children rode adult-sized ATVs which increases the risk of injuries and accidents.
To promote ATV safety, SC passed Chandler’s Law in 2011. The law stipulates that children under 6 years of age should not operate an ATV. It also states that any child under the age of 16 and younger must be accompanied by an adult when riding on public property.
Generally, anyone who operates an ATV on public roads must have the same insurance coverage as other motor vehicles according to SC Code Section 56-2-120C.
SC Laws and Requirements for UTV Insurance
The SC Motor Vehicles Code 56-2-140 does not specifically address UTVs. However, in 2021, legislators introduced a new bill that defines requirements for UTV owners and riders. Under this bill, people who drive UTVs on public roadways must have a registration from the SC DMV and a license plate on the rear of the vehicle.
The law also states that UTV drivers must be at least 16 years old, have a driver’s license, and proof of liability insurance.
Under SC law, UTV passengers must be over the age of 8. Also, all drivers and passengers must wear protective gear. Additionally, UTVs must have headlights, taillights, brake lights, and turn signals.
UTV and ATV Insurance Coverage
Although ATVs and UTVs can be a lot of fun, unavoidable accidents and serious injuries can occur. As an extra level of protection, always use recommended safety gear, and make sure you have adequate insurance such as:
Liability Coverage – Helps pay the other person’s medical bills or to repair damage to their property incurred due to an accident you caused.
Collision Coverage – Pays to repair your ATV if you
hit another vehicle or object.
Comprehensive Coverage – Pays for damages to your ATV caused by fire, hail, wind, or other natural causes.
Under SC law, off-road vehicles must be maintained with the following equipment in good working condition:
- Brake system
- Spark arrester
- Muffler system
In South Carolina, it is against the law to operate an off-road vehicle more than 30 minutes after sunset or 30 minutes before sunrise without headlights. It is also illegal to drive an ATV or UTV without eye protection and a helmet. Furthermore, like automobiles, driving an ATV or UTV under the influence of drugs or alcohol is illegal.
Talk to Sandifer Insurance for Affordable, Reliable ATV Insurance
If you aren’t sure about insurance requirements for your specific ATV or UTV model, contact Sandier Insurance. One of our agents will be available to answer your questions and recommend a policy that fits your needs.
Our local, family-owned agency proudly serves customers in Cheraw, SC, and surrounding areas. You can trust us to find the best coverage for all your insurance needs such as homeowners, automobile, life, farm, or commercial. Reach out to us by phone, email, or online to get a free quote.
cpsc.gov/ – Consumer Product Safety Commission
scdmvonline.com/ – All-Terrain Vehicles