Taking it to the Streets
When you are ready to take your UTV from the trails to the street, there are a few things you need to consider before making the leap. To make a UTV street legal, you will need the right tires and the right accessories. However, there are a few things you need to do before getting your UTV ready for the road. Make sure to follow these steps and then read more below.
No matter if you live in Kentucky, Texas, or California, in no time, you will be driving your side by side on the road legally.
The 5 Steps to Making Your UTV/ATV Street Legal
Determine if you need to be street legal.The very first thing you need to decide is if the added investment in parts and accessories is worth the road time. In many parts of the country like Tennessee, Florida, and Texas, there are places to ride that are easily accessed by riders from main roads. If you live in an area where these places are accessible, investing in a street legal UTV kit might save you money on a trailer and transportation costs. Also, many towns and communities are “golf cart” friendly, meaning they allow side by sides, UTVs, and ATVs to drive legally in their city limits. This can save time, wear and tear on a car, and gas for small trips around the places you live.
Find the laws in your local area.The UTV industry is growing fast, and there are more UTVs and UTV owners on the road today than there were a year ago. As a result, many state and local governments are passing new laws and legislature to allow more UTVs to ride on the road legally. Not all state laws are created equal, though, and you will want to do a little research into your city’s and state’s specific laws about UTVs. Some states require almost everything a standard motor vehicle requires while others require little more than a slow-moving vehicle flag. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission is a great place to get information about these laws. Their page has UTV and ATV information organized by state and includes some great safety training information.
Register your vehicle if necessary.It is important to check if a registration is required in your state and determine if a valid driver’s license is necessary to operate the vehicle. It doesn't matter if you have a Ranger or Maverick, you may need to have your side by side registered and plated to be able to drive it on the road, or you may only need it if you’re within city limits. These laws are in place to protect both riders and others from injuries. Some states like Colorado and Delaware require owners to register their side by sides just like any motor vehicle, while others like Kansas and Louisiana do not. DO NOT fail to check with your Department of Motor Vehicles or you could end up with heavy fines or even in jail. Some great places to start are locating your local DMV , or you can find out more about basic state UTV/ATV laws at Edgar Snyder & Associates Law which give you statute numbers and codes.
Is Your UTV properly insured?Nobody likes to think about accidents, but they do happen. When you take your UTV on the road, the chances of causing damage to your street legal quad or side by side increase, not to mention your liability to others. Make it a priority to check with your insurance company and make sure your policy includes coverage for both off-road driving and legal road driving. Most major insurance companies provide this type of coverage and you can usually save money by bundling it with your homeowner’s policy.
Install the necessary components.The last step is adding the correct after-market parts to your side by side in order to keep you safe. Again, requirements are different for each locality, but here is a list of items that we recommend. Make sure to read more below the list about how to choose the correct item for your specific needs, and some tips for installation.
UTV & ATV Street Legal Parts List
With a small number of changes, you can enjoy the luxury of driving your Polaris RZR to work when everybody else is snowed in, or taking the kids on a joyride around the neighborhood, or driving your Can-Am Maverick X3 straight from your garage to your favorite local trail. We think it’s totally worth it. Here is a list of the common parts you will need to be street legal.
- Headlights (high/low beam)
- Taillight and Brake lights
- Turn signals
- Department of Transportation (D.O.T) approved tires
- Rear reflector
- Mud flaps
- License plate carrier
Which UTV Turn Signal Kit is Right for Me?
A required addition for any street legal UTV is a turn signal kit. There are several kits out there, but which turn signal kit should you get? SuperATV offers a universal turn signal kit as well as many model specific kits that are designed to fit machines made by Polaris, Can-Am, Honda, Yamaha, and many others. Any time you are adding aftermarket UTV accessories that require wiring, make sure to obtain a wiring diagram of your vehicle and have an understanding of how new parts will affect your battery usage. Most small upgrades can be added easily but require some knowledge of how the wiring on your side by side works.
Some, like SuperATV’s turn signal kits, are plug and play. This means you don’t have to mess around with complicated wire connectors. You just plug it in and it’s good to go! When purchasing a turn signal kit, make sure you know what is shipped with each purchase. You could end up spending more if you need to purchase additional wiring harnesses or parts. Every kit that SuperATV sells comes with a horn to complete the package and to ensure you have everything you need to be street legal all in one kit.
What’s the Best DOT Approved UTV Tire?
In most places, the Department of Transportation has laws in place that restrict the types of tires that can be used to operate UTVs on the road. These restrictions help prevent damage to road surfaces and improve rider safety since some tires do not have the appropriate tread to grip the road surface. This can make handling and breaking difficult on side by sides and ATVs.
There are many factors that go into DOT tire certification, but a major factor is the tire’s tread. You can examine a tire’s sidewall to determine if a tire is DOT approved. Look for the letters “DOT” followed by a series of 10-12 characters. This code will tell you the date and place of manufacture, the tire size, and give a unique code for the company that made the tires. This will be present on all DOT approved tires.
Finding a good DOT approved tire designed for UTVs can be a real pain because most DOT approved tires are road tires first and good off-road tires second or not at all. This is because it is difficult to strike a balance between appropriate road tread and a tread that performs well on the rocks and trail. A great tire to consider is SuperATV’s AT Warrior tire. The AT Warrior features a patent-pending tread pattern that is designed to maximize grip on any terrain.
This is a smarter tread pattern that features which we call a tapered pyramid design. The tapered pyramid is different from a normal smooth lug because it is able to gather, pack, and compress whatever material you’re riding on to create a hard, solid driving surface between each lug. This will give you a massive leg-up on traction.
Every lug is also siped (small slits in the rubber) so they can grab smooth surfaces effectively as well. Between each lug are small rubber ribs know as ejector ribs. These assist with cleanout on stickier terrain by flexing and vibrating as the tire rolls to eject whatever material had been packed in.
Windshields for Street Legal UTVs
Some states and cities require you to have a windshield installed on your UTV in order for it to be street legal. This helps protect the driver and passengers from all sorts of dangers when driving in traffic at high speeds. Windshields are also great for keeping cold air and debris out of your cab. They’re especially nice if the truck in front of you kicks up a rock at highway speeds. Better to let the windshield take that hit than your head or face.
You will want to consider both the design and the material a windshield is made from when choosing which one is right for your UTV model. Glass windshields are the strongest and can be fit with a windshield wiper but are heavy and come as a full windshield. Polycarbonate windshields scratch easier but are lighter, cheaper, and can be found in full, half, and flip-out variations as well as some others. Make sure to check your local laws as some might require full windshields and others won’t. Make sure to check into this before investing in this upgrade. You don’t want to purchase a half model only to realize it isn’t street legal in your area.
Rear View Mirrors for UTVs
Vision is one of the most important things you need when driving. It’s no different when you are driving your UTV or ATV. Your vision needs to extend 360 degrees around your ride, and the only way to accomplish that is by adding a set of mirrors. You will also most likely need a rear-view mirror and/or a set of side view mirrors in order to make your UTV legal for road riding. These can be purchased in many styles and materials such as plastic and billet aluminum. When you order rear view mirrors, make sure you pay attention to the tube size for your model as these vary based on different machines.
Plastic is a less expensive alternative to some of the more expensive aluminum models, but if you ride hard it might be worth the upgrade. Heavy trail riders tend to be more likely to damage plastic after-market parts. SuperATV has you covered here as well. We’ve offer a variety of rear-view mirrors from 3-panel adjustable mirrors to wide-view convex mirrors that are available with various clamp sizes so that they can attach to any roll bar.
Other Street Legal Considerations
This is not an exhaustive list of requirements for making your UTV street legal. Again, these requirements vary by state, city, and county, so you may need a lot more modifications or a lot fewer in order to get the job done. Only your personal research will tell you exactly what you need. When you’re gathering your list of requirements, make sure you find out whether or not insurance on your UTV is required. It’s a good idea to have insurance regardless, but you definitely don’t want to be involved in a fender bender without it when the police show up. Also, make sure to observe any open container laws, and don’t drink and drive. That will not fly when you are on the road.
You should now be well on your way to making your UTV road ready. Make sure you get the best possible experience by buying the best parts and accessories during your conversion process. And remember to be safe out there!
Ready to Learn More?
Don't forget to check out more of our How-To articles. If you are ready to learn about more street legal gear, or are ready to explore a new topic, check out our article on choosing the right windshield for your side by side. We break down all the materials and styles available and help you determine what's right for you. Check out our DOT approved windshield video below!