(01/09/2007)
A committee has offered two bills for ATV safety discussion for the upcoming legislative session.

One bill would outlaw ATVs on all paved roads in the Mountain State, but then place the political burden on the 55 counties to change the law. The bill grants exemptions to farmers and recreational riders on the Hatfield-McCoy Trail.

Wayne County Delegate Don Perdue says the bill banning ATVs on paved roads needs more work, indicating it could get confusing for law enforcement if the 55 counties develop different rules, approve some roads for ATVs and not others.

A record 54 people died in ATV accidents last year in the Mountain State, half of them on paved highways.

The second bill would establish a permitting process for ATV owners with a one-time $10 permit, requiring owners to display a state-generated sticker or other identification decal. Non-residents would have to pay $10 a year for their permits.

That bill says after October 1, 2008 all ATVs in West Virginia would be licensed and permitted.

Karen Coria, who represents some ATV manufacturers, predicts other ATV bills this session will focus on helmets, more training courses and passengers.

Perdue says State Police have been unable to identify ATV riders who are breaking the law because their vehicles have no license.

"All we want to do is get the tag on the vehicle, we aren't interested in getting into anybody's pocket. We are interested in creating more safety and also allowing our law enforcement people a chance to do their jobs," Perdue said.

Perdue says the bill banning ATVs on paved roads needs more work. The ban is based on a recommendation by the State Police, who contend the ATVs are not safe on paved highways, according to the manufacturers.

Lawmakers start their 2007 session Wednesday.


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