With Nice Weather, More People Use ATVs, End Up in ATV Accidents
According to Maury County Fire Department District 1 Chief Richard Schatz, nice weather coincides with a rise in ATV accidents.
“When the weather gets nicer, the ATV and the motorcycle traffic picks up, Schatz said. “ … We typically run a significant number of motorcycle accidents this time of year.”
In Tennessee, a wreck involving two people occurred in the first week of March. Ragan R. McFall, 20, and Michael D. Moore, 56, of Columbia, TN, were riding their ATV when it flipped, according to the incident report. Both subjects were awake and complained about back pain – crushed spines or vertebrae are common problems associated with ATV accidents.
“On arrival I came in contact with one female (Ragan McFall) laying on her belly that was several feet from the ATV,” the officer’s narrative read. “There was a male (Michael Moore) that was laying next to the ATV with his feet under the ATV on the passenger side.”
The two accident victims were air lifted to Vanderbilt University Medical Center for treatment.
Despite ATV Accidents, Lawmakers Allow Them on the Roads
Although many people suffer serious injury in ATV accidents, more state lawmakers are allowing these recreational vehicles on roads, not just on dirt trails. Warning labels on ATVs say that they are not to be driven on roads – although they can reach highway speeds, the recreational vehicles do not have seatbelts, unlike cars or trucks.
Since 2012, 18 states have legalized driving ATVs on roads in rural counties. Local jurisdictions in Colorado, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Maine, Minnesota, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New York, Ohio, Oregon, Utah, Vermont, Virginia and Wisconsin have considered or approved such actions since the beginning of 2012.
However, few of these states have passed complementary safety measures like required helmets.
“We are moving backward on this issue,” said Rachel Weintraub, the legislative director and senior counsel for the Consumer Federation of America.
“It’s a very unfortunate trend,” said Robert Adler, acting chairman of the federal Consumer Product Safety Commission, which is studying ATV accidents and safety with the aim of possibly writing new regulations governing the design of the vehicles.
“I think there’s some very good attributes to it,” Montgomery County Sheriff Joe Sampson said of ATV legislation, “if it’s used for animal husbandry–the farmers out using their ATVs, going from one farm to the other. On the flipside of it, I can see a lot of people that don’t have any place to ride. They’re going to be out on the dirt roads, tearing up the dirt roads, out in the mud, and just romping up and down the ditches, making washouts through that. I see a lot of possible damages and accidents from a lot of people just out there playing on the roads.”