When it comes to riding safety, one thing an ATV should have is a kill switch. Designed to work with the electrical system, a kill switch is also known as an e-stop or emergency stop. For the casual or competitive rider, most switches are tethered from the machine to the chest plate or wrist. Its purpose is to safely shut down the machine in a situation where the rider is incapable.
There are two main types of kill switches: tethered and remote. A tethered switch, also known as a Digitally Encoded Security System (DESS cord), directly connects the rider to the machine, whereas the remote switch is held by the crew chief or safety crew in case of catastrophic rider failure.
There are two kinds of electrical systems used for ATVs: Normally Open and Normally Closed. Designed to OEM specifications, N.O. switches work by grounding the ignition lead when the tether is pulled. N.C. switches are generally used on battery-type ignitions with a key identifier. Never assume most newer models are N.C. Always double-check the schematic in the owner’s manual or speak to an ATV dealer about the specific electrical system for the make and model of the vehicle.
The ATV kill switch is often very easy to install using wire plug-ins which eases in to OEM stock designs. Sometimes a little splicing is necessary, depending on the brand. Many are designed for a handlebar mount and some are mounted off the fuel tank. Designed to be durable, most kill switches can take years of abuse.