Begin Main Content Area

ATV Riding Rules and Enforcement

To make the use of ATV trails safe and enjoyable for yourself and others, please know and practice the following ATV operating rules:

  • Do not disturb, drive, or pursue wildlife with your vehicle
  • Do not carry loaded firearms on your ATV
  • Abide by state park and forest rules and regulations and the Snowmobile/ATV law and regulations
  • Stay on designated trails and roadways
  • Operate your vehicle in a safe and responsible manner
  • Place all litter in waste containers, where provided; otherwise practice the “carry-in, carry-out” procedure
  • Wear a securely fastened helmet -- it is illegal to operate an ATV without a securely fastened helmet on the head of the operator

Any of the following activities while operating an ATV may result in a fine:

  • Riding at a rate of speed that is unreasonable or improper under existing conditions or in excess of the maximum limits posted for vehicular traffic
  • Riding in a careless way so as to endanger the person or property of another
  • Riding while under the influence of alcohol, narcotics or drugs
  • Riding in an area, trail, roadway that is not open to ATV use
  • Riding without a securely fastened helmet

Where You Can Ride Your ATV in Pennsylvania

Know before you go. It's important you know what lands you will be riding on and if they are open to ATV use. Contact the appropriate land management agency to find out what is open. Generally speaking, ATVs may be operated:

  • On private property with the consent of the owner
  • On state-owned property on clearly marked and designated trails
  • On highways and streets when necessary to cross a bridge or culvert
  • On highways and streets during periods of emergency when so declared by a governmental agency having jurisdiction
  • On highways and streets for special events of limited duration that are conducted according to a prearranged schedule under permit from the governmental unit having jurisdiction
  • On streets and highways that have been designated as “ATV or Snowmobile Roads” by the governmental agency having jurisdiction

An ATV may make a direct crossing of a street or two-lane highway provided:

  • The crossing is made at an angle of approximately 90 degrees to the direction of the highway, and at a place where no obstruction prevents a quick and safe crossing
  • The ATV is brought to a complete stop before crossing the shoulder or highway
  • The driver yields the right-of-way to all oncoming traffic that constitutes an immediate hazard
  • In crossing a divided highway, the crossing is made only at an intersection of such highway with another public street or highway
  • Driver must be at least 16 years of age unless he has a safety certificate and is under the direct supervision of a person at least 18 years of age

Designated ATV Roads

State and local highways and roads may be designated and posted for ATVs by the government authority with jurisdiction over the road. 

Township roads designated for ATVs are posted with a green sign containing the side view silhouette of an ATV and rider in white.

Some roads may be designated and posted as joint-use roads open to both ATVs and licensed motor vehicles. 

Joint use roads are posted with signs stating that both types of vehicles may use the road. ATV operators on joint-use roads must be at least 16 years of age.

Municipal ordinances may further regulate the use of ATVs on roads within their jurisdiction.

Private Property

ATVs may not be operated on private property without the consent of the owner. Use of ATVs on private property may be further restricted by municipal ordinance.

Operation of ATVS By Youth

Children under the age of 16 are prohibited from:

  • Operating an ATV anywhere other than land owned or leased by a parent or guardian unless the child has a valid safety certificate or is under the direct supervision of a certified instructor during a certified safety training course
  • Operating an ATV across highways or connecting streets or operate on state forest or park roads designated for joint use (use by both motor vehicles and snowmobiles or ATVs) unless the child has a valid safety certificate and is under the direct supervision of a person 18 years of age or older
  • Driving an ATV on state or local highways, roads, or streets designated for joint use

A child under 8 is not eligible for a safety certificate and is prohibited from operating anywhere except on private property. 

Age 8 and 9 year-old operators are restricted to an engine size of 70cc or less.

ATV Equipment Requirements

All ATVs operating in Pennsylvania must be equipped with:

  • A brake system capable of producing deceleration of 14 feet per second at a speed of 20 miles per hour
  • A muffler in good working order. The sound intensity produced by an ATV may not exceed 99dbA (decibels), when measured at 20 inches
  • An operating headlight and tail light if operating at dark or when visibility is less than 500 feet. The headlight must produce a white light sufficient to reveal persons and vehicles at a distance of 100 feet. The tail light must produce a red light plainly visible during darkness from a distance of 500 feet.

Enforcement of ATV Rules and Regulations

All law enforcement officers in the state, including local and state police, are authorized to enforce the Snowmobile/ATV Law. This includes:

  • State forest and state park lands -- state forest officers and DCNR rangers
  • State Game Lands -- wildlife conservation officers and deputy wildlife conservation officers
  • Municipal and state roadways -- municipal and state police
  • Private property -- municipal and state police

You must stop when signaled by a law enforcement officer. Failure to do so could result in fines and loss of your registration.

ATV Fines

Failure to register your ATV or abide by the rules can be costly. First offenses range from $50 to $200 plus the cost of prosecution. A second offense carries a fine of $100 to $300 plus the cost of prosecution.

Failure to register your vehicle or failure to have liability insurance is an automatic $300 fine plus cost of prosecution.