(03/05/2008)
Mixing ATVs with car and truck traffic on most of the state's paved highways will continue, following eight years of manufacturers and safety officials trying to change the rules for their use.

A bill to ban ATVs from paved highways is dead.

ATV users is one of the state's biggest voting blocks with an estimated 500,000 owners.

The state has the highest death rate in the nation with two-thirds of the deaths on paved roads.

In West Virginia, ATV users can break all the ATV safety sins - no hard surface riding, no double riding and no riding without helmets (a law calls for smaller children to have helmets).

Lobbyist Karen Coria said the bill died by House Roads and Transportation Chairwoman Lidella Hrutkay, D-Logan, who wouldn't give the bill a hearing.

The bill would technically have banned ATVs on paved roads except to cross them, but it did contain several exceptions. The current bill in the legislature passed the buck for cities and counties to to make their own laws.

While WV liberally allows road riding, including fuzzy lawmaking about riding the ATVs on roads with a center line, the vehicles cannot be ridden on about 1.5 million of state and federal-owned forest land.

Coria testified that it is not uncommon to see small children riding on the state's paved roads, the machines having become much a part of the state's culture.


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