STATEHOUSE (Feb. 1, 2017) — A bipartisan bill promoting off-road vehicle safety for Hoosier children passed out of the House Committee on Roads and Transportation Wednesday, according to the bill’s author, State Rep. Lloyd Arnold (R-Leavenworth).
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.
“The purpose of this legislation is to reduce the growing number of ATV-related deaths in Indiana,” Arnold said. “This issue hits close to home in southern Indiana and I am thankful for the support of my colleagues as we try to raise awareness about the safety measures that should be taken by children and adults alike.”
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 committee during a previous 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 full House 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.