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The Leavenworth Times - Leavenworth, KS
  • Letter: We need some ATV safety laws

  • If I'm wrong, please correct me. No Kansas state agency has specific regulatory authority over ATVs.
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  • To the editor:
    If I'm wrong, please correct me. No Kansas state agency has specific regulatory authority over ATVs. Titling and registration is handled in the same manner as automobiles, but there is no minimum age to operate an ATV, no requirements regarding safety equipment, and no restrictions on passengers. There's really not much information for Kansas laws on driving ATVs.
    The most common type of injury cause involves the ATV flipping or rolling. When this happens, an ATV driver and passenger can be thrown from the vehicle, or even pinned down by it.
    Many people do not realize that, in general, ATVs are not designed to carry passengers in the back. Doing so can put both passengers and the vehicle operator at an increased risk for an accident.
    According to U.S. Department of Labor Occupational Safety and Health Administration, ATVs lack the general stability of other vehicles, and are not meant to be driven on regular paved roads.
    Because children often lack the physical strength, cognitive abilities, and fine motor skills to operate ATVs properly, their risk for injury is greater than adults.
    I know this won't be a popular letter that I've written to the editor , but first I have to say, while I like, see the enjoyment and the use for the ATV, I'm a against ATVs as a ride for pleasure. But, before all you ATV lovers cry out with outrage, I have a Polaris that I enjoy using. And the word "using" is my point. I use mine for work on my own land. Yes, it's not one of the sporty type for riding the fields as they were meant for, but a work horse.
    My reasons for being against the ATV as play are simply these: ATVs can be dangerous, as stated above very clearly, especially for children. There has been plenty of fatal and horrible accidents that occur with children that could have been prevented if the parents had been diligent in watching their kids better.
    But, in saying that, I also realize that accidents do occur even when parents do their very best to be careful, but it happens and is a very very sad thing. Its not just kids, accidents on ATV riders happen to adults as well. When I see little kids under the age of , say, 12 riding fast down the road or an adult with a small child sitting in the front, I cringe and think, yes, it's fun, but not so safe.
    My perception of ATV riders when I watch them is that they seem to feel like the road belongs to them when they're riding, as well as the fields, fields that are not even their land. There's something that makes them feel invincible. They can go anywhere. They don't think about their neighbors and the noise of their ATV as they're roaring down that dirt road past that neighbor's house for the 100th time that day kicking up dust all over their neighbor's car, house, trees, interrupting the quiet and peace of the day that the neighbor has moved to the country for. Making animals nervous, scared, sometimes the person on the ATV hitting the neighbors dog that runs out in the dirt road because he's nervous and or is protecting his herd or in his mind, his owners. You say, well, what's wrong with me driving my ATV on this road, it's a public road, you have nothing to say to me, I can ride my ATV on it if I want to, the law says I can.
    Page 2 of 2 - There's an old thing of the past called "respect others privacy,"' be respectful, try to have a little respect for others around you. Like I said, that's mostly a thing of the past.
    Why can't people who own ATVs just ride on their own land? Why do they have to use the public road all the time? I can see if you need to get to another side of your land or for a specific reason, but just to ride up and down, up and down the public road just because it's fun is moronic in my opinion and disrupts the peace. Why do I want to hear your roaring ATV go up and down the road all day? I feel like it's not fair to me or other surrounding neighbors and is rude of you. This is MY home and I would like it to be my sanctuary, you know my castle.
    Rights? Yes, our society wants all kinds of rights. This is the 21st Century age of "my rights" or else I sue, I march, I protest. Well then, where's my rights to a quiet and peaceful country home surrounding?
    I would like to see some better safety and better laws concerning ATV riding on public roads, paved and or graveled especially around residential lands in our area.
    As it stands I have been told that there's not much of anything for safety and laws in our area, just that unless there's reckless driving or trespasses on a neighbors land, then no one has much of a say.
    I did finally learn this, that where you can and cannot ride your ATV is often determined by your county or even your local jurisdiction, but is usually regulated by the state Parks and/or Forestry department; you'll have to contact the local authorities to find out what's allowed, as is what I did. You can't operate any designated off-road vehicle on a numbered road, be it interstate, highway or even a neighborhood dirt road.
    As far as riding on the side of the highway goes, there's technically no delineation (where states are concerned) on where the road ends and where their un-paved property begins. Since you cannot (as a rule) ride on unapproved state property, then off-roading on the shoulder of highways is still illegal. You can do whatever you want if a road or trail is located on private property and you own it or have permission, but spark arrestor laws may still apply.

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