ATVs can make your winter both fun and productive.

How to plow through winter with your ATV

Off-highway vehicle use has exploded over the past few years. Twenty years ago, for instance, there were 368,600 OHVs registered in the United States, according to statistics compiled by the National Survey on Recreation and the Environment. Ten years later, that number ballooned to more than 1.03 million, the vast majority of them all-terrain vehicles.

Today, roughly 70 percent of all OHVs are ATVs. As its title suggests, ATVs are built to travel on a wide variety of surfaces, be them rocky, smooth, bumpy, or snow-covered. It’s in the winter time that ATVs really pay for themselves, as they’re not only great for recreation, but they can spare you a lot of time and energy removing snow from your driveway.

Traditionally, snow plows are attached to tractors, pickup trucks and big rigs. But your ATV can double as a snow plow with the appropriate gear. If you go online or pay a visit to your local power sports retailer, they should have information for you on what to look for when buying a snow plow for your ATV. You want to make sure that you buy an ATV that’s proportional to its size, is versatile, durable and, of course, fits within your budget.

“70 percent of all off-highway recreational vehicles in the U.S. are ATVs.”

You can also attach a snow blower to your ATV. Though these tend to be a bit pricier than snow plows, many who use them say the extra money spent is worthwhile, as they can jettison the snow quite a distance from where you’re operating.

Tire chains great for extra traction when plowing

ATVs are capable of climbing wooded areas and rocky terrain thanks to the added traction that their tires have. But you may want to increase that traction with a reliable set of tires geared specifically for winter or winter chains. Talk to your local ATV retailer who can direct you toward which option is best. Generally speaking, if you plan to use your ATV this winter for utilitarian purposes – such as plowing snow – tire chains are your best bet. The chains add the heft tires need to power through heavy, wet snow. For recreation or full-speed riding, a more aggressive set of tires will enable to fully experience your ATVs raw power.

Speaking of which, winter trail riding is a great way to take in the picturesque landscape of newly fallen snow. Just be mindful of the fact that all trails aren’t open to ATVs, despite looking like they’re tailor-made for them. Talk to your local law enforcement officials about which trails are open for ATV use and which ones are off-limits. Consulting with them first can help your ATV community develop a good rapport with your town and residents.

No matter how you use your ATV during the winter season, you should be sure that you’re safe while doing so. The power and speed that ATVs are known for can be abused when moving at a speed that’s dangerously fast, especially around road traffic.

Tragically, many riders have died in accidents. According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, an average of 700 are killed in incidents involving ATV use and 100,000 riders are injured, based on statistics between 2001 and 2008. Roughly 33 percent of these deaths were on paved surfaces, suggesting that many involve passenger cars.

The CPSC has some safety tips that riders should be mindful of when they’re out on their ATVs this winter. Riders should be sure that they always wear a helmet, to only ride with the number of passengers their ATV allows for and to stay off of paved roads, using them only when absolutely necessary, like crossing the street.

Armed with these tips, you and your ATV will get reacquainted with winter and all that the season entails.