Last updated: July 17. 2013 1:47PM - 328 Views
From staff reports

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All- terrain vehicles (ATV) can be fun and entertaining, but they can also be extremely dangerous, especially for riders younger than are 16 years of age.

Every spring and summer we read about fatalities and serious injuries that occur on ATVs.

According to death certificate data, 250 persons died from ATV crashes occurring in West Virginia during 1999—2006; of these, 215 (86%) were West Virginia residents. For the period of analysis, the average annual ATV-related death rate among West Virginia residents was 1.49 deaths per 100,000 population.

In West Virginia from 1982 to 2000, there were 444 ATV deaths. From 2008 to 2011 there were 144 deaths, and in Kentucky 419 from 1982 to 200, and 120 from 2008 to 2011. This doesn’t even include the number of severe injuries that occur on 4-wheelers.

Many times these deaths and injuries are teenagers and youngsters under the age of 12. Often times they are not wearing helmets, eye protection (like goggles), gloves, boots and other protective gear.

These children are turned lose on ATVs, many time doubling another sibling or friend. They have a tendency to ride with excessive speed or into terrain they should not traverse.

ATVs can be a wonderful recreational vehicle. The Hatfield-McCoy Trail System is a fantastic tourist attraction for this region, especially for Mingo and Logan Counties. However, many of these accidents occur on paved rural roads or mountainous roads that are areas that are off limits to 4-wheelers.

Parents or guardians should not let youngsters ride these motorized vehicles without proper supervision, protective gear and training.

Youngsters are not allowed to get a valid driver’s license until the age of 16 years of age. Should teens and children under the age of 15 be allowed to drive an ATV without a license? This may be a good law to have and enforce.

Either way, common sense should prevail when it comes to letting a youngster take off on a powerful ATV.

Let’s hope this summer will be a safe one for our youth in this section of Appalachia.

Here are some safety tips from the ATV Safety Institute.

* Always wear a DOT-compliant helmet, goggles, long sleeves, long pants, over-the-ankle boots, and gloves.

* Never ride on paved roads except to cross when done safely and permitted by law - another vehicle could hit you. ATVs are designed to be operated off-highway.

* Never ride under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

* Never carry a passenger on a single-rider ATV, and no more than one passenger on an ATV specifically designed for two people.

* Ride an ATV that’s right for your age.

* Supervise riders younger than 16; ATVs are not toys

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