(02/21/2007)
"This bill is not going to do a thing to change [the safety] situation," said Sen. Clark Barnes, R-Randolph, as a West Virginia Senate committee rejected a $10 ATV registration fee.

The registration and fee was something law enforcement and the Division of Motor Vehicles favored for an estimated 500,000 ATVs in the Mountain State.

If owners failed to pay the one-time $10 fee, the failed law established penalties for not registering the four-wheelers.

ATV owners have been required since 1989 to register their ATVs, but many do not. Steve Dale of the DMV said his agency has about 144,000 ATVs registered.

A companion bill (SB506) would enact new safety laws for ATV drivers, but the committee did not take that up Tuesday.

The failed bill was called "a revenue generator."

Senators said the public is concerned about safety.

West Virginia has led the nation in per capita ATV fatalities for several years. Last year, at least 53 people died in the state as a result of ATV accidents, with hundreds of others seriously injured.

Rather than create uniform ATV law, the legislature has moved toward allowing the state's 55 counties to determine the road rules.

Currently, state law allows ATVs on most of the state's paved highways, although they are not equipped with the proper safety equipment. Manufacturers say they were intended to be off-the-road vehicles, and are unsafe on paved highways.


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