Whether the vehicles are used as passenger or employee transportation, encourage your insureds to implement these tips to train employees to use off-road vehicles.
Summer brings many families to adventure parks for outdoor activities. While commercial adventure operators may dedicate most of their risk management attention on the activities they offer, such as ziplining or rafting, one area with substantial risk may be overlooked: passenger transportation using all-terrain vehicles (ATVs), utility terrain vehicles (UTVs) or other off-road vehicles.
Additionally, many other industries may utilize ATVs for their business, including “border patrol and security, construction operations, emergency medical response, search and rescue, law enforcement, land management and surveying, military operations, mineral and oil exploration, pipeline maintenance, ranching and farming, small-scale forestry activities, and wild land fire control, among others," according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
From 2015 to 2019, there were approximately 524,600 emergency department-treated injuries in the U.S. associated with off-highway vehicles such as ATVs, UTVs and remotely operated vehicles (ROVs), according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.
Whether the vehicles are used as passenger or employee transportation, here are seven procedures to encourage your insureds to implement to train their employees to use off-road vehicles:
1) Age. Recommend all drivers are a minimum of 18 years old.
2) Motor vehicle report (MVR). First, no employee should be authorized to use any off-road vehicle without being on an approved driver list. Second, an MVR should be pulled on each employee that is seeking to be on the approved driver list.
Qualifications should be set of what makes the employee ineligible, such as two minor violations—speeding, not wearing a seatbelt—or one major violation—DUI, suspended license. MVRs can be processed online and should be pulled annually on each employee on the approved driver list.
3) Driving rules and procedures. Each organization should have a list of driving rules and procedures that provides an overview of the key components and expectations for driving the vehicle. The employee seeking to become approved should review this list of rules and procedures.
Your insured should consider implementing the following standards:
- Provide an overview of the route.
- Vehicles are only allowed to turn around in designated areas. Do not turn around in the middle of the road or middle of the trail, which runs the risk of inadequate space.
- When on an ATV or UTV, make sure all passengers have fastened their seatbelt.
- If your employee is driving—or if a guest is driving—the driver's phone should be placed in a Pelican-style box so that it is out of sight and out of mind.
- When going downhill, employees should only use the low gear on the ATV or UTV.
- Passengers should distribute their weight on the vehicle evenly. For instance, don't have all adults on one side and all kids on the other, as this will lead to a high chance of turnover.
- Don't carry any items, including water jugs, in the front row. This can lead to the item rolling over and getting stuck under the brake or on top of the gas.
- Max speed at any time on the ATV or UTV is 10 mph.
4) Training session. Each employee should go through a training session that reviews the following information with a manager:
- Provide an overview of the vehicle and the functions of each of the components.
- With the trainer driving the vehicle, drive the route with the employee. The trainer should point out areas that deserve extra attention, such as blind spots, rough spots in the road, crossing areas and more.
- Review the driver rules and procedures with the employee.
- Review your expectations for them as a driver. If they are transporting passengers, focus on the responsibility they have for the many participants they transport.
5) Testing. After completing all of the above, the driver should be required to complete a written and practical test demonstrating their knowledge of these important areas. The employee must pass both the written and practical test to be added to the approved driver list.
6) Checklists and documentation. Documentation of the above MVRs, training, and testing should be saved in the employee file of the respective team member. And drivers should have a daily checklist for the ATV or UTV. The first employee to use the vehicle for the day should complete the daily checklist that reviews all critical components of the vehicle—tires, gas, brakes and more. This should be documented and kept in the vehicle maintenance file.
7) Repeat. All drivers should be re-approved annually, including training and MVRs.
Cameron Annas is CEO and adventure & entertainment national practice leader at Granite Insurance in Granite Falls, North Carolina. Annas was also the cover star of the July 2020 issue of Independent Agent magazine.