(07/26/2005)
A year after laws aimed at protecting ATV riders in West Virginia were enacted, there's mounting evidence to suggest they aren't working.

Dr. Jim Helmcamp, the Director of WVU's Injury Control Research Center, says since the laws took effect in June of 2004 more people are being injured and more are being killed.

Between 35-40 people have been killed in ATV accidents in West Virginia. "That's about our yearly average for the last two years." says Helmcamp.

A key element in the new law is aimed at forcing riders under the age of 18 to wear a helmet and take a safety course before they can legally operate the popular machines.

At least eight of the deaths since the laws went on the books were children, ranging in age from eight to 17.

"None of those teenagers were wearing a helmet, as far as I know," said Helmcamp.

Many safety advocates grumbled as the ATV laws made their way through the legislature that the regulations were being watered down and predicted their impact on safety would be minimal.

Expanding the use on most West Virginia highways may be causing a problem.

The manufacturers say double-riding is strictly prohibited and unsafe, but it is a common practice.


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