If you are an outdoorsman who loves riding motorcycles and ATVs, chances are you often transport your “big boy” toys between locations using a pickup truck or trailer. And needless to say, loading and unloading an ATV onto a truck bed is a tedious and dangerous task, even for seasoned riders. We’ve all seen the news, read the local paper, and most certainly have heard about the loading accident that happened to a friend of a friend. It’s not pretty, but the fact is, many ATV accidents occur during the loading and unloading process.

Because it looks easy and effortless, a lot of people tend to neglect the dangers and the various ways things could go wrong while you’re loading ATV into truck without any safety precautions. Proper safety measures have to be observed while doing this seemingly mundane task. You’re not just putting your equipment at risk, you are also endangering yourself or any other person who happens to be nearby if an accident does occur.

High Jump on an ATV Image

Accidents can happen so make sure you have all the safety gear you need when loading and using your ATV.

Loading/Unloading Safety Tips to Minimize the Risk of Accidents

While loading ATV or motorcycle onto a truck or trailer:

• Always remember to put on your helmet. If you fall or if something happens to the loading ramp while you’re still on it, at least your head is properly protected. Head injuries are quite common in these types of accidents because people often forget to put on their helmets while driving their quads onto the truck bed.

If you are using folding ATV ramps, make sure that the latches are locked tight, straps are securely fastened, and that the ramp itself is properly attached to the truck bed. You should also make sure that the ramp is properly aligned, and that the incline is not too steep.

• Start the quad and position it so that it’s perfectly aligned to the loading ramps. With the lowest forward gear engaged, start the slow climb up the ramp. This allows you to easily maneuver the ATV with little throttle input. If you have a 4-wheel drive, use it to prevent or at least minimize the risk of wheel spin.

• As you start to move forward up the ramps, make sure to apply the throttle as smoothly as possible. Give it enough gas to maintain forward momentum. Giving it too much gas could cause the wheels to spin uncontrollably.

• At the crest of the ramps, just when you’re about to reach the deck of your truck, gently apply the brakes until the quad is at a full stop on the truck bed. This requires precision timing, especially if there’s no extra room on the bed. You don’t want to overshoot and smash your ATV into the truck’s rear window. Once you’re on the truck bed, engage the parking brakes and shut down the engine.

• Once the quad is safely on the trailer or truck bed, tie it down with a set of good quality tie downs that is tough enough to secure the ATV. Use a ratchet if you have to, to make sure that the ATV is secured well enough to keep it from moving and sliding while in transit.

• Carefully remove the ramps and fold them back into storage. If you are using a convertible ramp like Shark Kage, you can simply convert it into a tailgate to help secure the quad in place. You can just unfold it and convert it back into a ramp once you reach your destination and begin the unloading process.

While unloading your ATV from the truck bed:

• Be sure, once again, to wear your helmet. As a rule of thumb, anytime you climb onto your quad or motorbike, make sure that you’re wearing your helmet and any other safety gear, even when doing as mundane a task as unloading it from a trailer.

Wear Helmet when Loading and Unloading from your ATV

Wearing your helmet is a rule of thumb when loading or unloading the ATV. Photo by Photo Credit for David Blaine

• Carefully remove the tie downs and store them in a safe spot, like your cargo box. You’ll be needing them again later.

• Reattach the aluminum ATV loading ramps and make sure that they are locked on tight and secure. For the Shark Kage, simply convert it from a tailgate position and back into a loading ramp. Just be sure to follow the manufacturer’s guide on how to do it safely.

• Before getting on the quad, get down from the truck and visually check the alignment of the ramp. Double-check all the attachments, locks, and hinges to make sure that they are all secure. Once satisfied, start the ATV and put it in reverse. Unless you’re using a side-by-side trailer with ramp access on each side, you’ll be moving backwards on this one, since you loaded the quad on the truck, front first.

• While on reverse, gently give it some throttle until you reach the crest of the ramp. Once you fill the downward momentum taking over, just let the throttle go and let gravity do all the work. Once on the ground, put it in park and shut off the engine. Place the loading ramps back in their original storage position and enjoy the afternoon with your quad buddies.

When handling heavy equipment, like when loading and unloading motorcycles and quads onto a trailer or truck bed, safety should always be the number one priority. Not only with regards to your toys, but for your well-being, too. We’ve all heard of the different horror stories about people getting crushed by their own quads because of a loading accident. You don’t want to be in one of those stories, do you?

Although it may seem far-fetched, it does happen to a number of unfortunate individuals. One can never be too careful. Accidents happen when you least expect them. And the best way to avoid any unfortunate mishaps is to employ safety measures and observe proper loading/unloading practices. Learn more about safely loading your ATVs on the back of your truck on the video below.


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