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North Dakota Parks and Recreation Department

OHV Helmet Safety

Dirt bikes, ATVs, and side-by-sides are popular off-highway vehicles (OHVs) among North Dakota residents. However, an increasingly significant issue in North Dakota is lack of helmet use by youth and adults. Helmets are important for an OHV rider's safety.

Riders and passengers under age 18 are required by law to wear a DOT-approved helmet when riding any OHV, including dirt bikes, ATVs, and side-by-sides. To encourage OHV enthusiasts, especially youth, to consistently wear a properly fitted helmet, North Dakota Parks and Recreation Department (NDPRD) is launching the “Ride Safe. Ride Smart” public service announcement (PSA) campaign in April 2010.

The television and online PSAs will focus on wearing a helmet to maximize injury protection. The helmet should fit snugly, fasten securely, and not be cracked or damaged. In addition, newer helmets will further protect riders through the use of the latest technological advancements in safety.


Helmet Safety frequently asked questions

Why is it important to wear a helmet when riding an off-highway vehicle?

Riders under age 18 are required by law to wear a DOT-approved helmet when riding any off-highway vehicle (OHV) including dirt bikes, ATVs, and side-by-sides. Helmets may reduce risk of death in an accident by 42%. (Source: Consumer Products Safety Commission) Accidents can happen when riders encounter unpredictable terrain or changing weather conditions so Ride Safe. Ride Smart by wearing a helmet at all times.

What do I look for when buying a helmet?

Make sure to consult an expert, such as an OHV salesperson, when choosing a helmet. They will ensure that the helmet fits and protects the rider properly. Follow these helmet guidelines for maximum injury protection:

  • The helmet fits properly - It is imperative that a helmet fits properly. It should be snug and fasten securely. Improperly fitted helmets can reduce your field of vision and may not provide adequate protection.
  • The helmet is not outdated - Helmets have a shelf life of approximately five to eight years. After that time the protective materials inside begin to break down and offer less protection. Also, as new technology is developed, helmets become more advanced and provide greater protection. For your safety, make sure that your helmet has the latest technology. Also, check the helmet for a DOT (Department of Transportation) stamp or sticker which signals the helmet meets all current safety standards.
  • The helmet is not cracked or damaged - A cracked or damaged helmet can allow almost as much damage as no helmet at all. Before using a helmet, give it a quick assessment to make sure that it is not cracked or damaged. A helmet can only withstand one serious impact before losing its protective qualities.
  • The helmet provides maximum protection - Many different types of helmets are available, but be sure to choose the one for your protection needs. Common injuries include dental and facial damage, so consider a full face helmet for full protection.

Where can I purchase a helmet?

Helmets can be purchased in a variety of locations, including online or at OHV dealerships. It may be wise to contact your local dealer regarding special helmet deals, promotions or giveaways. As part of the Ride Safe. Ride Smart campaign, dealerships across the state may be conducting safety presentations, helmet fitting clinics, and helmet giveaways targeted toward youth safety.

Clubs and dealers getting involved

To reinforce the campaign and reach as many OHV enthusiasts as possible, the North Dakota Parks and Recreation Department (NDPRD) is offering OHV clubs and dealers a chance to become part of the effort at the local level. The links below contain customizable tools to help you promote helmet safety in your own community.

  • Special Events: Some ideas to help you partner with NDPRD and join in the “Ride Safe. Ride Smart” campaign. You may develop your own idea or adjust any of these ideas to make them work for your club. (pdf 26k)
  • News Release: Can be sent out to local media (newspaper, TV, radio), and should be customized to help your club or dealership promote your helmet safety event or giveaway. (pdf 12k)
  • “Ride Safe, Ride Smart” Posters: May be used to promote the campaign in your club, dealership, schools, or anywhere else in the community. The printed posters may be written on to announce an event, or you may choose to customize an electronic file.
Ride Safe Ride Smart Poster