Operation


Operation on streets and highways
ATVs may be operated only on streets and highways designated and posted as an ATV road by the government agency having jurisdiction over that road.

An ATV may make a direct crossing of a street or two-lane highway if:

  • The crossing is made at an angle of approximately 90 degrees to the direction of the highway and at a place where no obstruction prevents a quick and safe crossing;
  • The ATV is brought to a complete stop before crossing the highway;
  • The driver yields the right-of-way to all oncoming traffic that constitutes an immediate hazard;
  • The crossing of a divided highway is made at an intersection of that highway with another street or highway.

ATVs may be operated on streets or highways during periods of emergency, if declared by the jurisdiction, or when necessary to cross a bridge or culvert.

Operation during special events
ATVs may be operated on highways and streets for special events of limited duration approved by the local authority having jurisdiction over those roadways.

Operation on private property
It is illegal to ride your ATV on private property without permission from the landowner.

Operation on state-owned property
Designated ATV trails on State Forest lands are open from the Friday before Memorial Day through the last full weekend in September. Some ATV trails reopen for winter use in conjunction with the snowmobile season from the day following the last day of the regular or extended deer season through April 1, conditions permitting. Check with the District Forester to be sure that winter use is permitted. The trail also may be open to snowmobiles.

Only Class I ATVs may be operated on State Forest trails designated for ATV use. Class II ATVs may be operated on State Forest land ONLY if the trail is specifically posted open to Class II ATVs of a particular width and weight.

State Forest roads are NOT open to ATVs.

State Parks and State Game Lands are NOT open to ATVs.

Riding rules
To make the use of the trails safe and enjoyable for yourself and others, please:

  • Do not disturb, drive, or pursue wildlife with your vehicle
  • Do not carry loaded firearms on your ATV
  • Abide by State Park and Forest Rules and Regulations and the Snowmobile/ATV law and regulations
  • Stay on designated trails and roadways
  • Operate your vehicle in a safe and responsible manner
  • Place all litter in waste containers, where provided; otherwise practice the "carry-in, carry-out" procedure · Wear a securely fastened helmet

 

Illegal operation
Any of these activities may result in a fine:

  • Riding at a rate of speed that is unreasonable or improper under existing conditions or in excess of the maximum limits posted for vehicular traffic;
  • Riding in a careless way so as to endanger the person or property of another;
  • Riding while under the influence of alcohol, narcotics or drugs;
  • Riding in an area, or on a trail or roadway that is not open to ATV use;
  • Riding without a securely fastened helmet.

 

Equipment
All ATVs operating in Pennsylvania must be equipped with:

  • A brake system capable of producing deceleration of 14 feet per second at a speed of 20 miles per hour;
  • A muffler in good working order. The sound intensity produced by an ATV may not exceed 99dbA (decibels), when measured at 20 inches;
  • An operating headlight and tail light if operating at dark or when visibility is less than 500 feet. The headlight must produce a white light sufficient to reveal persons and vehicles at a distance of 100 feet. The tail light must produce a red light plainly visible during darkness from a distance of 500 feet.

 

Plate/Sticker display
The registration plate for an ATV is provided by the Snowmobile/ATV Section. Pictures below are examples of the Class I and Class II plates. This registration plate shall be securely attached to the upper half of the rear of the ATV. No part of the plate shall be in line with a tire. The information on the plate must be clearly visible from behind the ATV. It is important to clean mud and dirt off your ATV registration plate at frequent intervals so the information on the plate is clearly visible. The registration sticker must be placed in a bottom corner of the plate.

Liability insurance
If you are using your ATV solely on land owned or leased by you, you do not have to get liability insurance. All other riders must carry liability insurance. Proof of that insurance must be carried with you when you ride. There are no minimum requirements or coverage standards established by the law for the liability insurance.

What you need while riding
While riding your ATV you must carry with you or on the vehicle:

  • Certificate of registration
  • Proof of liability insurance
  • Registration plate affixed to the vehicle
  • Expiration stickers (does not apply to limited registration)
  • Valid safety certificate (ages 8 -15 if riding off of parent's or guardian's property)

 

Where to ride
Know before you go. It's important you know what lands you will be riding on and if they are open to ATV use. Contact the appropriate land management agency to find out what is open.

Generally speaking, ATVs may be operated (see Youth operation for restrictions on child operators of ATVs):

  • On private property with the consent of the owner;
  • On state-owned property on clearly marked and previously designated trails;
  • On highways and streets when necessary to cross a bridge or culvert.
  • On highways and streets during periods of emergency when so declared by a governmental agency having jurisdiction;
  • On highways and streets for special events of limited duration that are conducted according to a prearranged schedule under permit from the governmental unit having jurisdiction;
  • On streets and highways that have been designated as "ATV or Snowmobile Roads" by the governmental agency having jurisdiction.

 

Where NOT to ride

  • Private property without the consent of the owner
  • State Forest trails not designated for ATVs
  • State Forest roads, State Game Lands, State Parks
  • On municipal or state-owned roads or streets that are not signed open to ATVs

 

Youth operation
It is prohibited for a child under 16 * to:

  • Operate anywhere other than land owned or leased by a parent or guardian unless the child has a valid safety certificate or is under the direct supervision of a certified instructor during a certified safety training course.
  • Operate across highways or connecting streets or operate on State Park or State Forest roads designated for joint use (use by both motor vehicles and snowmobiles or ATVs) unless the child has a valid safety certificate and is under the direct supervision of a person 18 years of age or older.
  • Drive on state or local highways, roads or streets designated for joint use.

*A child under 8 is not eligible for a safety certificate and is prohibited from operating anywhere except private property.

Signage
All ATV trails on State Forest lands are designated with signs. Stay on the marked trail. Roads for joint use by ATV's and vehicular traffic are marked with caution signs at all road junctions.

All municipal and state-owned roadways open to ATV use are designated as such with the following sign:

ATV operation for people with disabilities

State Forest lands
DCNR allows a person with disabilities to operate an ATV in designated areas of State Forest land with an approved letter of authorization from DCNR. Most of these areas are open year round. If the person wishes to engage in hunting from his or her ATV, a permit to hunt from a vehicle as well as a valid hunting license is needed from the Pennsylvania Game Commission.

State Game Lands
The Pennsylvania Game Commission allows disabled hunters who possess a special permit from the Game Commission to hunt from a vehicle to use an ATV on designated State Game Land roads. Roads are open for use by permitted persons from 14 days prior to the opening day of the hunting season to the closing day of the hunting season.

The ATV used on State Game Land roads must be registered with DCNR and be covered by liability insurance.

ATVs operated by disabled hunters are defined by Game Commission regulations as a motorized off-highway vehicle 58 inches or less in width, having a dry weight of 900 pounds or less traveling on four or more low-pressure tires and having a bench seat.