ATVs, OHVs and Staying Safe
Imagine driving down a South Florida roadway, only to have a pack of ATV and motorcycle riders coming toward you in your lane. If you happen to have been on the roads on Martin Luther King Jr. weekend that is precisely what has been happening on an annual basis for the past several years.
The rides, which are not sanctioned by any official sponsors, occur with a theme Wheels Up, Guns Down, and are intended to honor the legacy of Dr. King and his nonviolent missive. Nonetheless, the rides cause chaos as riders engage in dangerous driving and stunts on public roadways, including:
- Popping wheelies;
- Standing on their seats while driving;
- Weaving in and out of traffic;
- Driving the wrong direction;
- Running red lights.
The unpredictability of these riders puts everyone at risk. In 2018, accidents resulted in injuries in several instances. Police were kept busy with a number of felony and misdemeanor arrests, traffic arrests, citations, and property seizures. Violations of the law were significant, and encompassed:
- Reckless driving;
- Ignoring traffic signs and signals;
- Fleeing law enforcement officers;
- Unlawful driving on sidewalks;
- Driving an unregistered vehicle;
- Blocking intersections;
- Driving on paved roadways;
- Causing injury or death;
- Driving on a suspended license.
ATVs are called all terrain vehicles for a reason. They are designed to be recreational off-road vehicles and are virtually never street legal. Off-highway vehicles are similar to ATVs in that they are designed for use on public lands. Florida Statute 261.20 addresses some of the safety rules that riders should keep in mind:
- Don’t ride two-to-a-machine unless the machine was specifically designed for two;
- Do not operate such vehicles while under the influence of drugs or alcohol;
- Children under age 16 must wear an approved helmet, safety goggles, and ankle boots;
- Avoid reckless and careless maneuvers.
Other tips provided by OHV enthusiasts include:
- Don’t ride a vehicle that is too big for you to handle;
- Ride with others who can assist in the event of problems;
- Share your riding plan with someone at home;
- Carry an emergency kit;
- Keep the vehicle and tires in good condition;
- Be aware of the weather forecast before taking off.
Serious Machinery Deserves Serious Consideration
Although these vehicles are designed for fun, they are not toys. In recent years nearly 15,000 people were killed in ATV accidents across the country. Over 3,000 of those fatalities were children under the age of 16. During the same time period, over 100,000 emergency room visits occurred due to ATV accidents, one-fourth of which involved children. Here in Florida, the May 2018 deaths of two boys aged 12 and 17 underscore the seriousness of undertaking ATV riding. Surely, ATV’s must be handled responsibly in all situations.
Following an Accident
If you or a loved one is involved in an accident due to a reckless or careless ATV rider, the experienced team at the Law Offices of Robert W. Elton can help. Contact us in Daytona & Ormond Beach for a confidential consultation today.