One of the safest things you can do to guarantee the safety of your children when riding a Polaris Ranger is to drive nice and easy. But even still, when your youngsters’ lives are on the line, a few more safety precautions should be implemented. After all, when you’re out and about in any off-road vehicle, you’re at the whims of Mother Nature, so taking a few added precautions doesn’t make you paranoid, but rather, prudent. Things like kid-size helmets can protect your youngster's heads from bumping and blunt impacts, while car seats and booster seats will ensure the proper performance of factory as well as aftermarket seat belts and harnesses. Your most precious cargo can never be replaced, so taking the extra steps to guarantee their safety and well-being while tagging along in your Polaris Ranger is undoubtedly your number-one priority.
Using A Car Seat In The Polaris Ranger
Similar to on-road vehicles, both front and rear-facing car seats can also be used in the Polaris Ranger. Pretty much any care seat approved for regular automobile use can be ran in a Polaris Ranger. However, a common issue is that the stock Polaris Ranger seat belts don’t always tighten up enough or stay taut when fully pulled. You can use a razor knife or something similar to cut the stitches between the belt and the flap, which will let you tighten up your child’s seat just like you can in a car. This flap is there to prevent your seat belt buckle from falling into the seat, so removing it doesn’t diminish the strength of the seat belt in any way. Alternatively, you could also drill holes into the flat piece behind the seat and install u-bolts to use the safety belts that the car seat came with.
Ratchet straps can also be used to secure a car seat in the Polaris Ranger. Small ratchet straps can hook around the mount where the seat belts bolt behind the seat, and there is a clip that comes on the back of most car seats to are meant to lock the seat belts for older cars that don’t have locking seat belts, which are perfect for ratchet straps. Car seats with extra head padding are advisable, and you can never go wrong with extra straps to hold the car seat down. But even a Polaris Ranger with a car seat and a full windshield can’t protect your child from dust. So in addition to avoiding bumpy terrain, you should also try to avoid dusty areas when riding with your young children on board.
Using A Booster Seat In The Polaris Ranger
Like car seats for babies and riders under the age of two, Polaris Ranger booster seats can also be installed for kids too big for car seats, yet too small to fit the stock seatbelt. The right age/size appropriate seat will make all the difference. You want something that will elevate their posture enough so that the factory seatbelt goes across their shoulders, not their neck. The same goes for 4-point harnesses. If you don’t have a booster seat and are not using a youth-style harness, the connector strap could also be located directly across their neck, rather than their chest. You don’t want them sitting too low, yet you don’t want them elevated too high either, lest they not receive the torso protection that seatbelts and harnesses are designed to give. You want them boosted to the location a normal adult would sit at.
Using Youth-Style Helmets In The Polaris Ranger
Many states make it mandatory for individuals under the age of 18 to wear helmets when riding in a side-by-side. And while this may be no issue for teenagers and older kids, for those that require car seats, helmets can often cause more harm than they prevent.
A bulky, full-face helmet, for example, might put your child’s head at a dangerous angle when used in conjunction with a car seat. Furthermore, the weight of even the lightest off-road helmets can be too much for a young neck to bear. Add sudden stopping, turns, and, god forbid, a collision of any kind, and severe neck damage, whiplash, and other issues are more likely for young children wearing heavy helmets.
Padded toddler helmets are a good solution, as they are mostly foam and weigh next to nothing. Lightweight bicycle helmets can help you circumnavigate the law in some areas, and half-shell skateboard helmets are similarly suited to pass the inspection of your local Forrest Ranger.
You might be of the opinion that people need to stop looking to the government to protect them, and that the government needs to change their mentality and not be involved with such issues. Just know, however, that the warden will follow the law regardless of how sound it is, writing you a ticket regardless of your rational pleas and superior arguments.
At the end of the day, keeping your kids save while riding in a Polaris Ranger is up to you. Car seats and specialty-designed UTV booster seats are a given, and helmets are unquestionably beneficial for older riders. But be careful when putting heavy helmets on underdeveloped necks, lest you cause the very thing you’re trying to avoid.