(02/12/2008)
After years of research and debate, the West Virginia Legislature has declined to pass significant safety legislation for the operation of ATV's in the Mountain State.

Now comes another study requested by Gov. Joe Manchin that clearly defines what needs to be done to decrease deaths and injuries in West Virginia.

The state generally has the highest ATV death and injury rate in the nation.

A workgroup of ATV health and safety experts put together recommendations that include further limiting the operation of ATVs on paved roads and mandating helmet use for all riders.

ATV industry lobbyist Karen Coria has told the legislature for years that the vehicles were never meant to be ridden on paved highways, saying they become unstable and dangerous.

The study found that from 2005 to 2007, nearly two-thirds of fatal ATV crashes occurred on paved roads.

Coria says the study says ATVs should be restricted from paved roads.

Last week, a bill was introduced in the Legislature that would ban ATVs from all paved roads but give counties and municipalities the authority to make exceptions.

Counties and towns could have a problem allowing riders to use ATVs on their local paved highways, a liability risk based on warning labels attached to the ATVs.

It is highly unlikely the bill will pass because the state has the highest number of ATV riders per capita in the nation, a voting block that desires freedom to ride the unlicensed vehicles on main highways.

Coria has said the safety problems, mixing and matching ATVs with cars and trucks is high risk.

The Senate Transportation Committee plans to discuss the legislation today.


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