With Michigan’s beautiful and expansive landscape, off-road vehicles (ORVs) are a popular past time for teens and adults, alike, throughout the year. However, in order to maximize the enjoyment of ORVs for everyone, everyone must be willing to follow the same laws put in place to keep the community safe. No one could have said it better than the head of the DNR Law Enforcement Division’s ORV safety education program, Cpl. John Morey, when he said of the sport, “Enjoy it to its fullest by understanding the laws, knowing your vehicle, being respectful of others, and always putting safety first.” So to enjoy experiencing the safe, legal use of ORVs in Michigan for yourself, here are a few of the must-follow laws and recommended safety tips for ORV drivers.
- If you are under the age of 16, you must carry a valid safety training certificate on your person, and have it readily available to present to law enforcement upon request. To get an official certificate, you must take an ORV safety education course, available online or in person, and pass the exam.
- All persons driving or riding ORVs must wear the proper protective gear, including crash helmets and eyewear, approved by the U.S. Department of Transportation, unless otherwise exempt by way of unique circumstances outlined by another law.
- Rules of ORVs in regards to open alcoholic containers are similar to that of most automobiles. You must not carry open containers in or upon any ORV unless it is kept in a trunk or other separate compartment.
- Main roads and highways, including right of way and shoulders, used for traditional traffic are prohibited for ORV use, unless the ORV is registered by the Secretary of State as a motor vehicle (all Michigan ORV owners must have vehicles titled anyway). In some cases, some public roads may be open for ORV use, but you must contact your local authorities to get information on which specific roads are open.
- All privately owned land is off limits to ORVs unless you have received explicit permission from the property owner or have otherwise been invited onto the land.
- To ensure the safety of ORV drivers and passengers, ORVs must never be operated on or in the waters of any river, stream, swamp, wetland, bog, quagmire, or marsh unless you are driving on a ridge, culvert, or other reinforced structure.
Suggested Safety Tips
- Read your ORVs owners manual, and get to know your vehicle. Learn a little about maintenance and keep it in really great mechanical condition, to prevent equipment failure and accidents. Also always make sure you’re using your lights so that others can see you while you’re driving.
- Aside from your legally mandated helmet and eye protection, make sure you utilize other protective gear, designed ideally for the environment you’re traveling in and always pack essentials for the road. A first aid kit, a compass, flares, and other emergency tools will help you out greatly when you’re in a pinch and they are easy to store away for any occasion.
- Always know where you’re going, and what will happen when you get there. Check the weather, familiarize yourself with the terrain, and do whatever else you can to minimize any surprises out there. One wrong turn or light drizzle can send any vehicle into disarray so knowledge is your best defense against potential harm, especially if you’re exploring any remote areas.
- Always tell someone where you are going and when you plan to return. Accidents can happen to anyone so it’s best to make sure if you are traveling solo you have a back up plan in case something does happen.
Overall, if you’re an ORV driver, follow the laws and show respect to other people, animals, and the local environment that you are riding around. If you wish to report any illegal riding activity you can contact the Report All Poaching (RAP) line via call or text at 1-800-292-7800. For other legal questions regarding ORVs, contact a reputable attorney, like our experts at Harris Law If you’re in need of a legal consultation for any reason, including personal injuries, call Harris Law, today, at 231.347.4444 or fill out the free consultation form in the sidebar to schedule your free personal consultation.