A need for greater focus on ATV safety
Humans and motorized vehicles don't always mix very well. According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, for example, 13,000 people were treated in emergency rooms last year for injuries resulting from golf cart accidents.
There is no way to eliminate vehicle mishaps, whether for cars, golf carts or all-terrain vehicles. But decades-long improvements in automobile safety - a combination of technology, vehicle and highway engineering, safety regulation and enforcement - demonstrate that greater safety is possible.
Applying it to ATVs is more problematic. The powerful machines are built for off-road use, which inherently is more dangerous than roads designed and maintained for safety. And the off-road capability makes it relatively easy to elude police, who often are reluctant to pursue ATVs for fear of accidents and liability. Many riders are young risk-takers with limited training; many ignore laws requiring helmets and registration.
The deaths of four ATV riders in Northeast Pennsylvania over the last five weeks demonstrates the need for a greater focus on ATV safety.
No law alone will stop ATV abuse because of the nature of the vehicles and, in some cases, of the humans driving them. But the Legislature should expand the scope of liability when illegally operated ATVs cause property damage or personal injury, mandate more stringent training for minor operators and assist local police in developing their own programs to protect streets and ATV operators.