Unfortunately, over the past year a few parents here in Southern Indiana have received the dreaded phone call telling them their child has been injured or killed in an all-terrain vehicle (ATV) accident. As a father of four boys, I cannot begin to imagine getting a similar call. I am an outdoorsman who enjoys bringing my kids along with me and I understand how fun it is when the entire family participates in activities such as hunting, fishing, hiking and riding.
ATVs are enjoyed by many Hoosiers but without taking the proper safety precautions, these large machines can cause accidents that can take our loved ones away from us in an instant. Children are especially vulnerable when operating ATVs. According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, nearly a quarter of ATV deaths nationwide from 1982-2013 were children under 18. Just last year, Indiana’s Department of Natural Resources reported 247 ATV accidents resulting in 285 injuries. Sixteen of those injuries resulted in death, seven of which were children.
Indiana law states that you must be 14 years old to operate an ATV unsupervised. By matching your child with the appropriate engine size, the law encourages the safety of every rider. Below are the guidelines for the size and type of ATV that is appropriate for children:
I also understand some farms and businesses depend upon ATVs. The proper precautions, however, must always be taken, especially with younger kids who are at greater risk of an accident. One resource offered for new or beginner riders is an online course, which increases your understanding of basic ATV operation and safe riding techniques. You can access the course online at www.offroad-ed.com/indiana.
Other options to help decrease the number of ATV-related incidents among children are being considered. At the urging of the parents who tragically lost children due to ATV accidents, the proposal to require Hoosiers under 18 to wear helmets when riding ATVs has been brought to the attention of myself and other state representatives.
The concern that a helmet requirement for everyone under 18 may be a breach of personal liberty is certainly a legitimate one. I will work with my colleagues in the General Assembly to thoroughly examine this and other options aimed at improving the safety of children riding ATVs. I will also take into consideration the impact each proposal would have on the everyday lives of Hoosiers. If we can find a way to cut down on the number of fatal accidents and save just one life, it will be worth it.
As we continue to lead Indiana forward, please contact me with questions or input at 317-232-9793 or by email at email@example.com. Learn more about the work being done at the Statehouse by signing up to receive my email updates at www.in.gov/h74.
State Rep. Lloyd Arnold (R-Leavenworth) represents portions of Spencer, Dubois, Perry, Crawford and Orange counties.
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