Climbing Temps Mean More ATV/UTVs On The Roads Operators: Ride Slow, Wear A Helmet



Contact: Lt. Warden Jacob Holsclaw, DNR Off-Highway Vehicle Administrator or 715-491-0283


Climbing Temps Mean More ATV/UTVs On The Roads

Operators: Ride Slow, Wear A Helmet


Unusually warm conditions are leading to slick roadways and trail conditions for ATV and UTV riders. 

MADISON, Wis. – The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) urges users of all recreational vehicles to be mindful of safety in this year’s changing conditions when operating throughout the state.

With climbing temperatures across the state, many of Wisconsin’s trails are again being used by ATV/UTV riders. However, a lack of snow doesn’t necessarily mean trails are safe. Changing conditions, including rain, snow melt and freezing fog, make surfaces slippery – especially roadways. Off-road vehicles may have excellent traction on dirt tracks and overland trails, but that isn’t the case on wet or frozen winter roads.

“The tread on these machines causes them to handle differently than a car or truck on wet paved roads,” said Lt. Warden Jacob Holsclaw, DNR Off-Highway Vehicle Administrator. “Take extra time slowing down and be careful approaching corners or taking turns.”

There has already been one fatal ATV/UTV crash and two snowmobile crashes that resulted in three fatalities in the state in 2024. Drive slow, sober and wear a helmet to help protect yourself and others on Wisconsin’s trails. The consumption of alcohol or drugs, excess speed and operator error are all leading causes of fatal crashes.

Here are a few more safety tips to keep in mind when operating your off-highway vehicles during winter:

  • Never consume alcohol or drugs before or during your ride.
  • Always wear a DOT-approved helmet.
  • Always wear a seatbelt in a UTV.
  • Let someone not riding with you know where you are going and when you will return.
  • Follow all posted speed limits and regulatory signs.
  • Double-check before operating on trails. Many trails open to ATVs/UTVS are closed during winter in anticipation of snowmobile season.

Wisconsin law requires ATV and UTV operators born on or after Jan. 1, 1988, who are at least 12 years old for an ATV (and at least 16 years old for UTV) must complete an ATV safety certification course to operate in Wisconsin (exception: on private property owned by operator’s immediate family). These safety courses can be taken online or in person. A list of approved safety education classes is available on the DNR Safety Education webpage.

Wisconsin law also requires every operator involved in a crash incident to report the incident to law enforcement officials without delay. Operators must submit a written report to the DNR within 10 days of the incident.

For more information about ATV and UTV recreation in Wisconsin, visit the DNR’s ATV/UTV Riding in Wisconsin webpage.