Do UTV Riders Need to Wear a Helmet?
Yes, UTV riders should wear a helmet. While UTVs make you seem more protected than ATVs, most serious injuries impact the head.
Safety Concerns for Unhelmeted Riders
While a UTV has seatbelts or harnesses, roll-over bars, and other safety equipment, riding UTVs is not without risks. You have the risks of debris--rocks, branches, etc.--flying through the side windows. This is especially true when you are going on group rides, as you never know what will be flipped up by the tires in front of you.
Whenever a UTV is riding on uneven terrain, there is a risk that it will roll over or crash. You may be an experienced driver, but other drivers can be inexperienced or just make a careless error. Seat belts can help protect against some injuries, but your head is the most vulnerable in most accidents. A well-fitting helmet can take the brunt of the impact.
Find a Helmet That Is Designed for UTVs
For riding a UTV, you should not wear any old helmet. For example, a bicycle helmet would not do you a lot of good in a UTV accident. UTV helmets should protect the whole head and face. Some have built-in visors or face shields. Others should be worn with goggles or at least sunglasses.
Regulations on UTV Riders Wearing Helmets
Regulations vary state by state, but most regulations are specifically for minors (riders under 18). However, you should research the regulations where you will be riding. In Utah, helmets are not required for UTVs (just ATVs). However, all riders are encouraged to wear helmets. Also, state, federal, and private lands may have specific regulations. Check the requirements of where you will be riding before you go.
Things to Consider When Choosing a Helmet
How fast are you going to be driving and how long? If you are going to be spending a lot of time driving and you are going quickly, you will want to consider wind resistance. Visors can protect the face from the sun, but can also catch the wind.
Are you going to be wiring communications through your helmet? Many lines of UTV and related helmets are easy to connect to communication systems within your UTV and even between UTVs. If this is important to you for group rides, consider that as you narrow down your options.
How dusty are your usual riding conditions? You may want to purchase a helmet with a dust skirt or a fresh-air port. You will also need to ask how much dust will leak into your helmet itself based upon its design. Much of Utah has very dusty conditions, so if you are mostly going to be riding in-state, you will want to consider this.