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All-Terrain Safety: Motorsports Safety Tips for Parents


Motorsports can be a great outlet for physical activity and an avenue to discover new peer groups — something that is important in a child’s or teen’s life. They also offer other benefits, like preventing an overabundance of screen time and providing potential outdoor team-building activities for participants. With the advancements on motorsport vehicle access abilities, those living with disabilities can enjoy outdoor recreation too. Motorsports encompass a wide range of events including:

  • Rallying
  • Formula racing
  • Snocross
  • Touring car racing
  • Stock car racing
  • Drag racing
  • Motorcycle racing
  • Off-road racing
  • Rallycross
  • Kart racing
  • Air racing
  • Auto hillclimbing
  • Road racing

While these sports are known for the rush and exhilaration experienced by its athletes, there are also risks involved, many of which are related to physical injuries. To mitigate these risks, it’s important to understand and learn about the variety of safety equipment that is available to keep children safe. This article will provide safety guidance for parents whose children are starting to show interest in motorsports.

Choosing Motorsports Gear With Safety in Mind

Falls and crashes are expected when children start learning how to control their first motor vehicle. Since children are still developing and growing, any injuries to their bones or internal organs can cause serious problems later in their life. Head injuries in children are one of the most common causes of disability and death. The average child-size dirt bike can reach up to 40 miles an hour while a youth ATV can reach up to 30 miles an hour. It’s important to take the time to choose motorsports gear that provides the right size, fit, and protection for your child.

How to Select the Right Vehicle for Your Child

Vehicles such as ATVs, motorcycles, and snowmobiles are sold in a variety of age-appropriate sizes. Still, parents must also keep the weight of their child in mind. This is to ensure the child can handle the vehicle without too much physical exertion. For instance, the handlebars on an ATV turn with some resistance. Before buying your child one, make sure they can turn the handlebars to the right and left, as well as that they can operate the throttle and brakes. Maintaining control over the motorsport vehicle is the first step in avoiding injuries.

Additionally, there are differences between vehicles designed for trail use and those designed for competitive use. For instance, bikes used for motocross racing are lighter and faster to gain an advantage over the competition and use enhanced suspension to handle the rough motocross track. Trail bikes, on the other hand, are smoother and built to handle technical trail aspects. They also typically come with more accessories, like a headlight and a kickstand.

Whether you invest in a motorsport vehicle designed for competition or trail riding, it’s important to protect that investment by using adequate vehicle transport. A motorcycle loading ramp can help safely transport the bike from location to location and prevent any tipping or high-centering from occurring — the same can be said for ATV and four-wheeler loading ramps. Additionally, investing in a carrier can help protect the motorsport vehicle during transport without the rider having to haul a trailer.

What Kind of Safety Gear Will Your Child Need?

There is an array of personal protective gear that children starting motorsports need, including:

  • Helmets
  • Chest protectors
  • Elbow and wrist guards
  • Gloves
  • Knee and shin protection
  • Goggles
  • Jerseys
  • Pants
  • Spare pants
  • Neck braces
  • Boots
kids motocross riding
Kids riding in the proper safety gear | Image courtesy of

Protective gear can be expensive, especially when buying from big-name brands. One way to save money is to buy gear online from smaller brands. The most important aspect of protective gear is the fit, not where it comes from. However, it’s important to note that extremely cheap gear may not be sufficiently protective or may not fit well. Another way to save money is to rent protective gear instead of buying it. Many places offer safety equipment on a rental basis.

How to Maximize Safety in Motorsports

To maximize safety and prevent rider injuries, it’s important to keep a regular maintenance routine and to ensure the vehicle is in peak condition. Snocross, motocross, and ATV activities can result in various injuries including broken bones and head trauma. Studies show that among deaths due to all-terrain vehicles, over 60% were a result of not using helmets. Following the tips below can help prevent these injuries and maximize safety.

Inspect Vehicle and Equipment for Defects

It’s important to inspect the motorsport vehicle and conduct regular maintenance for sanitary and safety reasons. When you or your child have an all-terrain or motor vehicle, expect to:

  • Wash it after every ride
  • Check for leaks
  • Inspect and tighten bolts
  • Check and clean the air filter
  • Check the controls and control cables
  • Inspect and clean the chain
  • Check the oil and fuel regularly
  • Check the spark plugs
  • Keep the engine properly tuned
  • Maintain fluid levels

For convenient maintenance, consider an air-operated lift that can raise bikes, snowmobiles, and ATVs for easier reach. It can be helpful to teach your kids to check their vehicles before and after a ride — that way, preventative maintenance can become a routine.

Being Alert While Riding

Beginners should start slowly in motocross sports. As with other sports and hobbies, mastery comes with practice. Motocross and snocross involve a steady progression of ability, and riders should learn at their own pace to prevent injuries. Riding beyond a skill level too soon, including attempting dangerous courses or tricks, can lead to serious injury.

Additionally, riders should be aware of their surroundings at all times. The course should be visible at all times. If weather or dust obstructs the course, riders should avoid the course until it is clear. During a race, riders should always be aware of others at all times to prevent crashes and pile-ups on the course. Walking the track can help the rider familiarize themselves before a race so they won’t encounter any surprises.

Help Your Child Recover After Activities

Recovering after the race is also an important aspect of motorsports. Often, racers will forget to hydrate or overexert themselves in races. Signs of overexertion include:

  • Dizziness
  • Feeling faint
  • Lightheadedness
  • Nausea
  • Shortness of breath
  • Thirst
  • Vomiting

After racing, it’s important to hydrate and rest to allow your body to recover. Make sure to have enough water on hand to replenish body fluids. Stretching can also help your child’s body to recover and decrease the risk of injuries. Create a stretching routine for your child to follow after every race to form good habits.

If your child is injured during a race, seek medical attention immediately. Often races will have medical personnel and an ambulance on the grounds. If your child is hurt on the track, they should stay still to let the medical personnel know they need attention.

Additionally, just like other athletes, it’s important for motocross and snocross athletes to maintain a healthy diet and to stay hydrated. Water is vital during and after the race, as dehydration can affect muscle ability and overall alertness. Eating fruits, vegetables, and whole grains can help your child’s body recover faster, while carb-heavy meals can give racers enough fuel on race day. Lean meats can help rebuild muscle, increase strength, and improve performance. Be sure to incorporate balanced meals into your dinner plans.

Tips to Teach Your Child About Motorsports Safety

There are many safety tips to be aware of, and many ways to teach your kid the safety principles. Some tips to teach your child about motorsports safety include:

  • Join a youth motorsports enthusiast group. These groups have dedicated talks and lessons that revolve around safety. You can enroll your child into a motorsport summer camp or find a local foundation through a motorsports store.
  • Seek an instructor or a tutor. Often these professionals can be hired for private lessons, sharing their personal experiences along with tips and tricks they learned throughout the years. You can find instructors online or by networking with a motocross group.
  • Read the user manual with your child. Both you and your child could gain valuable insight into safety precautions that are specific to the type of motorsport vehicle in which your child is interested. Most manuals share how to prepare for motorsports as well as how to control the vehicle.
  • Start kids on soft ground. As stated before, children starting in motorsports are more likely to fall. By practicing on grass or dirt, they can learn how to fall correctly so they don’t get hurt and not be frightened.

In motorsports, there is always a possibility of falling or crashing. By following the tips and safety guidelines outlined above, you can help mitigate the risks of your child becoming injured during a race.

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