Saturday, January 31, 2004

While the Georgia General Assembly passes bills designating an official state amphibian, does their best to de-rail tort reform and the Department of Education wants to eliminate the word "evolution" from the curriculum, but still teaching the concept. The West Virginia House of Delegates is tackling that perennial bugaboo, ATV regulation.

West Virginia leads the nation in ATV deaths, and 26 percent of those killed since 2000 were juveniles, according to figures supplied by the West Virginia University Center for Rural Emergency Medicine......
WVU statistics show that since 2000, 16 percent of those killed on ATVs were passengers, only 5 percent of those killed were wearing helmets, 30 percent were killed on public paved roads, 34 percent were riding on private property, and 22 percent were riding on an unpaved road or trail.

The data from the WVU Center for Rural Emergency Medicine may be found here.

Of course, many more are injured, sometimes severely on ATVs. ATVs are extremely popular in West Virginia with the number one per capita sales volume in the U.S. (and number two overall). They are sometimes used as a family's "second car". Efforts to regulate them not only meet opposition from those of a more libertarian bent, but legislators that represent poorer, more rural districts (the same crowd that fights efforts to keep passengers out of the beds of pickup trucks)

The dueling proposals are described as:

The House passed legislation early in the session, basically the same compromise bill that failed last year. It prohibits riders under 16 from hauling passengers on public property, requires helmets for riders under 18 on public property, and limits to 25 the number of miles on paved roads an operator can drive.

The Senate version under consideration goes further. Senators included making helmets mandatory for those under 18 on public and private property; restricts the distance that can be traveled on paved roads to 10 miles, bans those under 16 from hauling passengers on public and private lands, and allows municipalities and homeowner organizations to make additional restrictions.

I agree with the latter of the two proposals, as the vast majority of those killed or severely injured that I cared for were riding on their own property. The saddest was a six-year old girl who was riding on one during a friend's birthday party. She was on an ATV with five others when she was thrown into a tree, she died in ED from a high cervical fracture and head injuries.

The Gazette has an excellent series about ATV problems in the Mountain State here. (Free registration)
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