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Lawn Care: Utility-Type Vehicle Safety


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Authors as Published

Authored by Robert Grisso, Extension Engineer, Biological Systems Engineering, Virginia Tech; John Perumpral, W.S. Cross Professor Emeritus, Biological Systems Engineering, Virginia Tech; Don Ohanehi, Research Scientist, Biological Systems Engineering, Virginia Tech; Mike Goatley, Professor, Crop and Soil Environmental Sciences,Virginia Tech; Kathleen Jamison, Extension Specialist, 4-H Youth Development, Virginia Tech; Cathy Sutphin, Associate Director, 4-H Youth Development, Virginia Tech; Dan Swafford, Curriculum Specialist, Biological Systems Engineering, Virginia Tech; Carl Estes, Instructional Technologist, AHNR Information Technology (first published November 2013, last reviewed January 2029)

Objective: To promote the safe use of utility-type vehicles.

How to Use This Training Module – Steps to Success

  • Read the utility-type vehicle’s operator’s manual and understand UTV operation and safe practices.

  • Ask your supervisor to point out the safety features on UTVs.

  • Ask your supervisor to demonstrate the safe use of UTVs and their maintenance.

  • Become familiar with personal protective equipment (PPE) to be used when operating a UTV.

  • Discuss common UTV accidents and ways to prevent them with your supervisor.

  • Review the important points in the Review section of this module.

  • Take a quiz — available at — to check your understanding of utility-type vehicle safety.


Utility-type vehicles are popular, multipurpose equipment used for different applications in the lawn care industry. Their hauling capability and versatility have increased their popularity, and they are widely used in rural, suburban, and urban settings for a variety of lawn care, agricultural, construction, and industrial applications.

Safety Tips for Operating a UTV

  • Avoid distraction; drivers should not use cell phones or listen to music through headphones when operating a UTV.

  • Keep the legs and arms of the operator and passenger inside the vehicle at all times.

  • Drive slowly and turn smoothly to prevent an overturn.

  • Avoid driving a UTV on steep slopes. In a “must” situation, drive uphill or downhill rather than across the slope. Drive all the way to the top or the bottom of the hill before making a turn. When approaching a downhill slope, reduce the speed before reaching the slope to minimize wear on the brakes.

  • Never allow more than two occupants in a UTV.

No passengers allowed in cargo box
  • Slow down to maintain control and protect the occupants when operating on rough terrain.

  • Stay clear of ditches and embankments. If a ditch is 6-feet deep, the rule of thumb is that the vehicle should be at least 6 feet away from the edge of the embankment to avoid embankment failure.

  • Permit as passengers only adults who can reach the handhold when sitting with their backs against the seat and their feet flat on the floorboard.

  • Ensure that the seat belts of the operator and occupant are always be fastened.

  • Be careful when reversing a UTV. Watch especially for young children and pets.

  • Do not operate a UTV inside an enclosed area in order to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning.

  • Never operate a UTV under the influence of drugs or


  • Make sure all cargo being transported — including toxic materials — is properly secured in the cargo box. Shifting cargo may cause tipping and spills.

  • Use all recommended personal protective equipment when operating a UTV.

  • Do not drive UTVs on a public road; they are off-road vehicles.

  • Maintain a safe speed and load the cargo box for improved traction when using a UTV for towing.

  • Never disengage warning systems or safety devices available on a UTV.


  • Do not allow more than one passenger in addition to the operator.

  • Stay clear of ditches and embankments.

  • Avoid driving on steep slopes.

  • Drive slowly and turn smoothly to avoid overturns.

  • Keep the legs and arms of the operator and occupant inside the vehicle at all times.


This publication was developed with the support of National Youth Farm Safety Education and Certification (grant No. USDA/NIFA- 2010-41521-20830), National Institute of Food and Agriculture, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The team that developed this publication is solely responsible for its content; it does not necessarily reflect the views of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or the U.S. Department of Labor. Team members are Robert Grisso, John Perumpral, Don Ohanehi, Mike Goatley, Kathleen Jamison, Cathy Sutphin, Dan Swafford, and Carl Estes.

The team would like to express appreciation for the reviews and comments by David Balderson, teacher, Atlee High School; Phil Blevins, Virginia Cooperative Extension agent; Deborah Chaves, instructor, Monroe Technology Center; Sonya Furgurson, VCE associate agent; Michael Hopkins, instructor, Louisa High School; Emerson Lynn “Kip” Kirby Jr., teacher, Richlands High School; Michael Lachance, VCE agent; Alyssa Walden, VCE associate agent; A.J. Powell Jr., professor emeritus, University of Kentucky.

Virginia Cooperative Extension materials are available for public use, reprint, or citation without further permission, provided the use includes credit to the author and to Virginia Cooperative Extension, Virginia Tech, and Virginia State University.

Virginia Cooperative Extension is a partnership of Virginia Tech, Virginia State University, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and local governments. Its programs and employment are open to all, regardless of age, color, disability, sex (including pregnancy), gender, gender identity, gender expression, national origin, political affiliation, race, religion, sexual orientation, genetic information, military status, or any other basis protected by law

Publication Date

January 29, 2024