(10/29/2001)
The third time around, the West Virginia Legislature will attempt to pass a bill regulating ATV's on state highways. In case you didn't know, police essentially have little authority over four-wheelers or other variations of ATV's from traveling the state's highways.

Most ATV operators believe you can ride on secondary or unimproved roads, but not primary highways. There is no law specifically addressing the issue. In southern West Virginia it is not uncommon for ATV owners to drive to town, shop and visit.

Delegate Virginia Mahan D-Summers said "Will this be the year it happens? I can't predict the outcome. But I do wonder how many lives we have to lose before we have regulations." West Virginia leads the nation in per capita ATV deaths, and trails Pennsylvania in the total number of fatalities.

Mahan, chairperson of the House Rule making and Review Committee, said law enforcement has no authority to stop ATV's from traveling major highways. She cited an example of an un-helmeted juvenile that recently passed her car on the Sandstone Grade on I-64. She said reckless driving is the recreational sport for many juveniles. The bill approved by the committee:

- Require all ATV operators to wear a helmet.

- Ban passengers from ATV's (unless they are built to accommodate them).

- Require juveniles to receive safety training.

- Require ATV operators to obtain permission before riding on other peoples land.

- Ban ATV's from major state and interstate highways.

- Allow county commissions to decide whether ATV's can be used on "less busy" roads.

- Make it illegal to drive vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

- Allow police to chase ATV operators onto private land, when they are suspected of law-breaking.

- Require ATV renters to supply helmets.

- Establish fines up to $250 for ATV offenses.


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