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ATV law needs more teeth

July 27, 2006

Two years ago, the West Virginia Legislature passed a law its members felt would reduce the number of people killed each year while riding all-terrain vehicles.

Things haven't gone quite as planned. It's time for lawmakers to revisit this issue.

As of Saturday, The Associated Press reports that 34 have died in ATV accidents this year. At that pace, officials said, the state record of 40 that was set in 2005 should be broken long before January 2007.

Pushing hard for modifications are the manufacturers themselves, whose lobbyist, Karen Coria, spoke to lawmakers on Monday.

Coria proposed that ATVs be barred from paved roads - they're currently allowed, if the road has no center line - and looking at the possibility of barring passengers as well as requiring all riders to wear helmets.

Part of this problem is one of parental supervision. Only two of the seven children killed this year were wearing the required helmets.

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One item not suggested is the possibility of putting roll cages on such vehicles. With that safety accessory in place, a rider who flipped his or her ATV would have a chance of escaping a fatal brain injury.

And West Virginia would have a chance to stop setting new state records for ATV fatalities.

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