homepage logo

ATV’s injure West Virginians every year

By Staff | Oct 28, 2009

Fall and winter are the perfect seasons of the year to go for a carefree ride or explore West Virginia’s beautiful country side on an All-terrain vehicle, or four-wheeler. Fall also brings out the hunters of wild game in the state, and with them, four wheelers. Many West Virginian’s, however, are unaware of the many laws and regulations which ATV drivers must abide by.

The West Virginia State Legislature passed mandatory regulations for ATV’s in 2004 in response to the high death rate of it’s citizens on these vehicles. From 2000-2003, 23 people were killed in ATV crashes in West Virginia, and hundreds of others injured. The numbers have climbed since.

All-terrain vehicles is any motor vehicle fifty-two inches or less in width, having an unladen weight of 8100 pounds or less, traveling on three or more low pressure tires with a seat designed for, or capable of, travel over unimproved terrain.

In West Virginia, all ATV’s must be titled. No ATV may be operated on any interstate highway, except by public safety personnel responding to emergencies; on any road or highway with a center line or more than two lanes except for the purpose of crossing the road, street or highway.

ATV’s may not be operated at anytime from sunset to sunrise without an illuminated headlight and tail lights.

No ATV may operated in the state with more than one passenger unless more passengers are allowed under the manufacturers’ recommendations. ATV’s are designed for interactive riding, drivers must be able to shift their weight freely in all directions, depending on the situation and the terrain. Passengers can make it difficult for drivers to control the vehicle. No ATV may be operated with a passenger under the age of 18, unless the operator has at a minimum a level two intermediate driver’s license or is 18 years of age or older. Any and all driver and riders of ATV’s under the age of 18 must wear size appropriate protective helmets that meet performance specifications.

As of January 1, 2005, persons under the age of 18 are restricted from operating an ATV unless they have acquired a certificate of completion of a vehicle rider safety awareness course which is offered by the Commissioner of Motor Vehicles.

These certificates are issued to persons who satisfactorily complete the requirements of an approved course.

Children are involved in about one-third of all ATV related deaths and injuries. Children under the age of 16 on adult ATV’s are twice as likely to be injured as those riding youth ATV’s.

Any person who knowingly uses or permits ATV’s to be used in violation of state laws can be found guilty of a misdemeanor.

Any parent or legal guardian or person who has actual responsibility for a child under 18 years of age who knows or should have known the child is operating or is a passenger on an ATV without a helmet as required by law, can be found guilty of a misdemeanor.

Drivers of uninsured ATV’s operating on the road are subject to driver license suspension.

To learn more about the ATV Safety Awareness Training, or to take the class, contact the closest Department of Motor Vehicles Regional Office.