Rollover protection (ROP) is an important accessory for your UTV. There is no getting around the fact that sometimes UTVs roll over, especially if they are used for hunting, racing or off-roading. According to the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), ROP involves an “open steel framework enclosing a UTV that is strength rated to Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) J2194-97 standards, or better, to resist collapse during a vehicle rollover.” The BLM goes on to clarify that brush cages and cab enclosures are not automatically rated as ROP, but may be in some instances.
Furthermore, having ROP is a requirement in some parts of the country, so UTV owners need to do their due diligence to make sure they are legal and safe. For example, in Arizona, effective in April 2008, all government UTVs were required to have ROP or couldn’t be used. Plus, “all parts must meet manufacturer’s approval and compliance requirements for ROPS.” This was a big request for many UTV owners, but manufacturers and UTV sellers also shared responsibility. In this case, any UTVs purchased had to have ROP—kind of like requiring insurance before driving a new car off the lot, which meant many manufacturers hustled to align with laws.
According to the Arizona BLM, “It is clear that UTVs equipped with certified ROPs and used in conjunction with seatbelts, provide a far greater level of protection for personnel than UTVs without ROPs and seatbelts.” The state government may have required ROPs for several years now, but it can also be used as a best practice for any UTV owner. Selecting a UTV with an ROP, or adding the protection to it, can drastically reduce injury and damage in the event of a rollover or even a collision.
In the world of UTV ROP systems, there is a big difference between certified ROP systems and a “rollover protection device.” Only certified structures undergo rigorous testing and achieve Occupational Safety & Health Administration guidelines. This is, of course, a must if you own, drive or operate a UTV that requires certified ROP. Many rollover protection devices are very similar to certified devices and increase rider safety.
Adding a cage to a UTV is only effective if the cage can truly stand up to rollover challenges. How can drivers know? Look at review ratings, ask the experts and get word-of-mouth recommendations. A multitude of options is on the market, all at different price points, with different features and with different rankings. Do your research and find one with great ratings that meets your needs.
However, if your UTV is required to have a certain and/or certified ROP, do not skimp on this task, or you may be held liable if a problem pops up.