Safety Library

Categories: Site Safety

Sit Astride / ATV Use

Following recent query calls on ATV/ Sit Astride, a summary of the key points are detailed below.  The topic will be picked up by a subgroup within the FISA Plant & Equipment WG.

The Government classes a quad bike as being a B1 vehicle. That means the driver must be at least 17 years old and have the correct licence to drive a road legal ATV on public roads.

In fact, quad bike drivers must hold either a full car licence or a full motorcycle licence category B1 (if issued before January 1997). Road legal quad bike laws do not allow the use of any other motorcycle licence version.

Legal Road Requirements

You must register your quad bike/ATV with DVLA and the bike must have front and rear number plates. Quad bikes used on the road need a valid MOT certificate if they are more than 3 years old. You must also have third party insurance to drive on the road.

Quad bike/ATV drivers and passengers in England, Scotland and Wales do not have to wear crash helmets by law, but it’s highly recommended by FISA as stated in FISA Safety Guide 701, that suitable head protection must be worn. You must wear a helmet if you’re driving a quad bike in Northern Ireland. You can be fined up to £500 if you do not.

The HSE have published useful information on helmet suitability. Stating that the helmet types suitable for ATV operations, depending on the circumstances, are motorcycle helmets, equestrian helmets, specialist ATV helmets, cycle helmets and mountaineering helmets. All helmets should be manufactured and tested in accordance with the current relevant EN/BS standard, have a chinstrap and be capable of being used with suitable eye protection. The type of helmet chosen should be based on an assessment of the circumstances in which the ATV will be used, eg the types of surface travelled over and anticipated speeds. The harder the surface and higher the speed the greater the degree of protection needed. NB: Forestry helmets and industrial hard hats are not acceptable for any ATV operations.

You do not need a driving licence to ride a quad bike off-road. Nor do you need to tax and register your quad bike if you’re only going to use it off-road. However, there is an ‘off-road register’ where you can record the details of your off-road quad bike, which could help the police find it if it’s stolen.

If you’re using a quad bike for agriculture, horticulture and forestry work you need to register it as a light agricultural vehicle. An agricultural/forestry quad bike used on the road does not need an MOT but must be registered and licensed for road use and must have a number plate and third party insurance. It will also need lights if it’s being used on the road after dark. You do not have to pay vehicle tax on quad bikes used for agriculture, horticulture or forestry.


It is highly recommended to undertake training before using a sit astride or sit-on ATV in an off-road environment. Riding a quad bike is very different to a sit-in (side-by-side) ATV and therefore separate training would be most beneficial. Learning how to control these vehicles on all terrains will keep the operator and people around them safe. General Agricultural training is widely available; some manufacturers offer training via quad safety upon purchase of a new vehicle. There are a few specialist training providers who offer forestry-oriented ATV training in UK, MWMAC Ltd being one example. Forestry training will cover additional detail on type of slopes, stumps, ditches and debris encountered with forestry use, including for example restocking.

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