STATEHOUSE (Feb. 9, 2017) — The Indiana House of Representatives passed a bill Thursday, authored by State Rep. Lloyd Arnold (R-Leavenworth), which aims to reduce fatalities related to off-road vehicle accidents.
House Bill 1200 would require anyone under the age of 18 to wear a helmet while riding or operating an off-road vehicle, such as an ATV.
“Seeing the support for this legislation from families and friends who have been personally affected by an ATV-related accident has been truly amazing,” Arnold said. “It’s my hope that this bill will help raise awareness in Indiana about safer ways for kids to enjoy the outdoors, while at the same time driving down the number of injuries and deaths caused by off-road vehicle accidents.”
Over the last five years, 1,285 ATV-related injuries have occurred in Indiana. Unfortunately, fatalities are on the rise, according to Indiana’s Department of Natural Resources. In 2016, there were 21 deaths resulting from off-road vehicle accidents. That number is up from 16 the year before and 13 in 2014. Currently, Indiana’s state parks and facilities require ATV riders, regardless of age, to wear helmets. That requirement, however, does not extend to private property.
Arnold said the inspiration behind this bill comes from a 2015 accident that killed an 11-year-old Warrick County girl. In July 2015, Kate Bruggenschmidt was riding an ATV with a friend, also 11, on private property in Spencer County. While riding up a hill, the ATV rolled over and trapped Bruggenschmidt underneath, causing severe head trauma. Bruggenschmidt did not survive the accident. Neither of the girls were wearing helmets.
Bruggenschmidt’s mother, Ashlee, started “Play For Kate” in order to raise awareness about the importance of ATV safety. She testified in front of the House Roads and Transportation Committee during a January hearing in support of the bill and told the story of her daughter.
“When our kids play football, when Kate played softball two hours before her accident, she had a helmet on. It’s required. But when we’re putting them on these machines, we’re not requiring that,” Bruggenschmidt said. “We need to be more proactive than reactive. An ATV helmet law on any property for 18 and under is a step in the right direction.”
The bill will now go to the Senate for further consideration.
State Rep. Lloyd Arnold (R-Leavenworth) represents House District 74, which includes portions of Spencer, Dubois, Perry, Crawford and Orange counties.
A high-resolution photo of Arnold can be downloaded by clicking here.