Many farmers are unsure about the details when it comes to legally using ATVs and UTVs on the road.

With police cracking down on this issue, we interviewed Paul Wood, network development manager from Can Am, at the Royal Cornwall Show to get the full lowdown.

What is the difference between an off road and an on road ATV?

The ATVs we produce are offered as an off road machine that can be agricultural registered or as a tractor homologation (T) model which can be used for agricultural registration and private and light goods (PLG).

The T model is adapted for full road spec so it comes with a full lighting kit, trailer hitch, a plug for your trailer lighting and a number plate.

There is a top speed limit of 40 miles an hour. But we also do quad bikes fitted with ABS which allows us to increase the top speed to 60 miles an hour.

What is the difference between agricultural registration and PLG?

A lot of farmers aren’t aware of the fact that you are restricted to 1.5 km from your farm with an agricultural registration under limited use. With the T model you can register it like your car. There’s a cost for first registration fee and tax for 12 months but then you’re fully legal to ride on the road and can ride anywhere.

Does it need a yearly check in like an MOT?

It does after three years, like a motorcycle, and you can take it to a motorcycle MOT station.

Is it legal to have more than one person on an ATV on the road?

With most machines you’re allowed only one person. On the back of the seat there’s a logo saying you can’t go on the road with passengers. We do offer a road legal machine that is suited and designed for two people. Our “Max” range has an extended wheel base for this purpose. You can alter them to make it suitable for one or two to ride.

The police are really cracking down on people riding ATVs on an agricultural license on the road too far from their farm, or riding with more than one person on a machine.

Are your road legal machines more vulnerable to theft?

There is a lot of theft of these machines. Last year there were around 800 thefts of ATVs in the UK. Our machines have a specialist key to prevent this. The key is like a dongle, and is coded to the brain of the computer in the machine. Without that key the machine will never work, and you can’t hot wire it.

Do you need to have any protective equipment to ride ATVs on the road?

You don’t have to legally but we would always strongly recommend as a manufacturer that everyone should be wearing an E-stamped motorcycle helmet. In all of the quad bike accidents over the last three years, the only fatalities have been people that weren’t wearing helmets. Around three a year are killed off road not wearing helmets. We would also advise gloves, riding boots and eye protection.

Is there any training that people need to be riding these on the road?

If you’ve not owned an ATV before, we as a manufacturer are linked to the European ATV Safety Institute, and we subsidise a course for every person buying a new machine. We fund half the cost of the training course and that can be delivered in your local area. It’s a full day course that will cover you as an employer and employee.

What about off and on road UTVs?

Again, we do these as an off road and an on road variant. They are restricted in the same way, so 40 miles an hour is the limit for an off road variant on agricultural plates or with the T- model it’s 60 miles an hour. From the off road variant to the road legal variant we have to do 73 modifications to make it compliant. We even have to put an insert on the cup holder so you don’t catch your hand on it and injure yourself.

What are the main modifications?

The biggest changes are the lighting kit, number plates and trailer pick up. Again you will need to PLG tax an on road UTV and then you can drive it like your car. These are more popular for on road driving than the ATVs as it feels more like driving a car than a quad bike. All UTV vehicles have to have a roll over protection system as standard to be compliant to use in Europe. We also do an optional full screen roof, side panels, full doors and electric windows. We would also advise wearing helmets when driving these.