ATVs & ROVs
Two Very Different Sides of the Off-Road Coin
Not all off-road vehicles are the same. And all too often, the All-Terrain Vehicle (ATV) is
confused with the Recreational Off-Highway Vehicle (ROV). But there are actually some
very significant differences between the two, even if both types of off-roaders are four-
wheeled and used for similar types of recreation.
The most noticeable differences include the fact that ROVs have a steering wheel,
acceleration foot pedal and a brake foot pedal, and they are “driven.” ATVs have a
handlebar for steering, a throttle controlled by pushing a thumb lever next to the handgrip,
and hand lever(s) for front and/or rear brake(s) and a foot pedal for the rear brake. And
unlike ROVs, ATVs are “ridden.”
OPERATORS AND PASSENGERS
ROVs currently in the market are specifically designed for an operator age 16 or older with
a valid drivers license and one or more passengers. They generally have seats situated
side by side or a bench seat, and are equipped with operator and passenger seat belts.
They also are equipped with a rollover protective structure (ROPS), side retention features
(hard plastic doors or sturdy canvas netting) and handholds. When operating or riding in
an ROV, it’s important to keep all arms and legs inside the vehicle at all times. Although
there are a few exceptions, most ATVs are designed for one rider and have a large seat
designed to be straddled by a single operator only, with no passenger. ATVs are rider-
active; in order to properly operate an ATV, the rider must be able to shift body weight
while riding. Adult-size ATVs are for operators age 16 and older. Youth-model ATVs allow
kids as young as age 6 to enjoy ATVs while under active adult supervision.
ROVs have a cargo bed that may be stationary or allow for tilting of the bed. Most utility-
type ATVs have racks on both the front and rear of the vehicle to allow the rider to carry
cargo. Whether you’re operating an ROV or an ATV, always consult the owner’s manual
to determine the manufacturer’s requirements regarding safe operating procedures,
maintenance, and cargo capacity and load capacity for that particular vehicle. Never carry
more than the stated limit for the ROV or ATV.