Columbus — Youngsters would be required to don helmets and complete safety training before driving all-terrain vehicles on public land, under legislation being considered in the Ohio House.
Rep. Jack Cera (D-Bellaire), the primary sponsor of HB 504, said safety manuals and other materials provided by ATV manufacturers and existing laws that generally prohibiting use of the vehicle on public roads aren’t enough to protect users, particularly children.
“It is my belief that Ohio needs to provide additional safety training and education to help protect young ATV riders from serious injury or death and make parents more aware of these safety measures,” he told members of the Ohio House’s transportation committee, where the legislation had its first hearing May 27.
Existing state law, Cera said, already prohibits careless or reckless use of ATV’s on public land, carrying passengers unless the vehicles are designed to do so and operating ATVs if impaired by drugs or alcohol.
HB 504 would also require teens younger than 16 to complete a certified safety education and training program before being allowed to drive ATVs on public property. The Ohio Department of Natural Resources would develop the training, with help from the Department of Public Safety.
The bill would include “vehicles that operate on a cushion of air, vehicles commonly known as all-terrain vehicles, all-season vehicles, mini-bikes and trail bikes,” according to an analysis by the state’s Legislative Service Commission.
And youth would have to wear safety glasses and helmets when driving or riding as a passenger on such vehicles.
“An ATV can be useful and fun when operated properly,” Cera said. “Many individuals enjoy riding them for recreational purposes. Unfortunately, if operated carelessly, an ATV can cause severe injury or death to the rider of the vehicle. Sadly, in many ATV-related injuries, the most common cause of injury is unsafe speed, impaired driving because of drugs or alcohol, driving on paved roads or driving without proper supervision or training.”
Rep. Terry Johnson (R-McDermott), a member of the House transportation committee, voiced his support for the bill, but he said more needs to be done to enforce ATV prohibitions that are already on the books.
“I’m really tired of people turning a blind eye to this,” he said.
Marc Kovac is the Dix Capital Bureau Chief. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at OhioCapitalBlog.