Pricey Harrison

Friday, July 29, 2005

House Committee Approves ATV Regulations 7-29-05

The House approved legislation on Thursday that would prohibit children younger than 8 years old from operating an all-terrain vehicle (ATV). There is currently no minimum age requirement in our state, which makes North Carolina one of only five states without regulations. The Senate has passed a slightly different version of the bill so negotiators from both chambers will begin to work on a compromise.

Bill supporters argued that the changes, which also require drivers to complete a safety course, would lead to fewer deaths and serious injuries. The measure would allow children ages 8 to 15 to operate only child-sized ATVs under an adult's close supervision. An amendment was approved that also reinstated an exemption for hunters and farmers, and for those who owned the ATV prior to enactment of the legislation. Violators would be subject to an infraction, punishable by fines of up to $200. Some opponents argued that parents should decide at what age their child should be allowed to operate the machines. The bill was given initial approval on Wednesday by a vote of 70-41 and final approval on Thursday by a vote of 77-33.

North Carolina ranked 10th nationally with 189 ATV-related deaths from 1982-2002, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. The number of children under 16 who died in ATV-related accidents in our state doubled from five in 1999 to 11 last year. Supporters of the bill cite statistics showing that of the 157 ATV deaths in the state between 1999 and 2004, 43 involved children under 16 and 22 involved children under 12. There have been several accidents across the state this year where children were killed or seriously injured.

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