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West Virginia enacts ATV law

March 29, 2004
Filed under Features

West Virginia Governor Bob Wise signed HB4022 into law, marking the first time the state has enacted a law specific to ATVs and safety.
Wise said the bill was “an important first step,” but the law still allows riders who are licensed drivers to carry passengers and allows ATVs to be used on some paved roads. Both these provisions are in direct contrast to manufacturer guidelines.
In fact, ATV manufacturers had urged the governor to veto the bill because of these provisions, but softened stances in order to allow the other important provisions of the bill to become law.
“I’m concerned about any law that allows what manufacturers say is an improper use of the vehicle,” Wise said. “But counties and future legislatures can grapple with that.”
Still it is a step in the right direction for a state that has the highest per capita ATV-related death rate among the 50 states since the year 2000.
According to manufacturers, what the law does right is regulate helmet requirements for children under the age of 18 riding on both private and public lands and also requires children less than 18 years old to pass state-sanctioned safety classes. It also outlaws children from carrying passengers.
According to published reports, eight of the state’s 27 ATV-related deaths were among children. Of those eight, only two were wearing helmets.
Paved roads that are eligible for ATV travel are those without a painted centerline. These backcountry roads comprise about 13,000 miles of the state’s 34,000 total road mileage. ATV riders are limited to speeds of 25 mph and have to stay on the shoulder of the road. psb

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