Oregon parks department proposes restrictions on ATVs
(Note: All the restrictions and rules in the world won't replace common sense. Ride responsibly. Think about where you're riding and who rides with you. Don't assume everyone else is doing so. Police your own group and pay attention to those members of your groups that consistently give your recreational choice a black eye by their actions.)
August 6, 2006
No author provided for this article, but reference made to author of August 3, 2006, article in Statesman Journal, Roy Gault.
The Associated Press
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Salem, Oregon - Deaths and injuries on off-highway vehicles are escalating in Oregon, especially among young riders, and the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department wants to do something about it.
Concepts for four new laws have been proposed. If Governor Ted Kulongoski approves, they go to the next Legislature.
"State government shouldn't try to solve every problem, but this is one of those times that state parks has recognized a problem, recognizes that there are not adequate programs in place, and we're taking a proactive approach," said Wayne Rawlin, department's recreation appropriations manager.
"If we could lop off half the deaths every year, wouldn't that be a neat result?"
The proposed laws would:
• Make helmets mandatory for all off-highway vehicle operators.
• Place a restriction on the number of occupants of each ATV.
• Establish mandatory training for every ATV operator, starting with the youngest, then being phased in over time until all must be trained and pass a test.
• Require a title for every new or used ATV purchased in Oregon beginning in 2008.
The laws would cover off-road motorcycles and three-wheel and four-wheel all-terrain vehicles on public lands and on private lands open to public riding.
Statistics are scarce because most police accident reports do not deal with off-highway crashes.
But the Oregon Department of Human Services knows of at least 18 deaths in five years to participants 17 and younger on off-highway vehicles in Oregon. The average age of death was 13.7 years.
In the same period --1999 through 2004 -- 534 children were admitted to Oregon hospitals for major trauma from ATV injuries.
State statistics document 5,791 deaths on ATVs nationwide from 1982 through 2003 -- 32 percent of them children 15 and younger -- and 1.6 million ATV-related visits to hospital emergency rooms.
"What happens is, to be able to corner and turn them correctly, you have to use your body weight to move the vehicle, and youths sometimes don't have the body weight that's needed to get around corners," said Lisa Millet, an injury prevention and epidemiology specialist for the Oregon Department of Human Services. "That's where you see them flying off cliffs in national forests."
Those who own or operate ATVs will have opportunities for input as the laws are written.
"Based on what we've seen, we think the only responsible thing is to propose improvements on off-highway vehicle safety," said Chris Havel, communications coordinator for state parks.
Oregon law already requires youths 17 and younger to wear helmets when riding on public lands, but only two of the 18 deaths included in the Department of Human Services statistics were doing so.
The proposed training program is modeled after one the Oregon State Marine Board has, making a safety education card mandatory for older and older participants each year. Operators of boats with motors 10 horsepower or larger must hold a card this year if they're 50 or younger. Next year it will be required for 60 and younger.
The only adult ATV training done in Oregon, outside of private ones, is training offered by manufacturers when a new unit is purchased. Only 3 percent of off-road motorcyclists and 12 percent of three-wheel and four-wheel purchasers take advantage of it, said Steve Garets, a consultant whose research helped the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department gather information on ATV safety.
No training is required for youths, but those 17 and younger who do not have a driver's license and who want to ride alone must take a manufacturer's safety course and obtain a safety card.
Garets said there are 589,000 off-road riders in Oregon, including 68,000 17-and-younger three-wheel and four-wheel riders.
Information from: Statesman Journal, http://www.statesmanjournal.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20060803/OUTDOORS/608030301&SearchID=73253026910792 article by Roy Gault, August 3, 2006 [email protected].
Making it safer
WHEN: Drafts are being crafted by legal counsel and, provided the governor approves, will be forwarded to the Oregon Legislature for consideration in January
FEES: Fees and fines will be established during the legislative process, except issuing a title for an off-highway vehicle, which if adopted, will be a one-time fee of $55.
A comment on the original article:
By Dale, August 3, 2006:
Outdoors: Proposed laws targeting ATVs focus on safety
parks department proposes restrictions on ATVs