ATV Restrictions Take Effect In November

Thursday, September 20th 2007, 3:28 pm
By: News On 6

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) _ A new law going into effect on November 1 will place new restrictions on riders of all terrain vehicles. Passengers will be prohibited from riding four-wheelers on public land unless the vehicles are specifically made to carry more than one person. The law also makes it mandatory for riders under 18 to wear helmets. Young ATV riders and their parents could be fined up to $25, if the youth is not wearing a helmet.

Some ATV riders are not happy with the new restrictions. David Shepard of Rector, Arkansas, drives 14 hours to bring his family, including his 70-year-old mother, to the dunes near Waynoka. He says that after November 1, he may look for a new spot that doesn't have a rule that ``outlaws kids and families.''

Park rangers and other peace officers at Oklahoma's state parks and four-wheeler areas on the Ouachita National Forest will spend the next few months educating people about the rule before strictly enforcing the new regulations, said Mike Fina, spokesman for the state Tourism and Recreation Department.

``It's about safety for children; we're trying to keep that in focus,'' Fina said.

Near Little Sahara State Park in Waynoka, Don Blalock, owner of Little Sahara Sandsports, said the under-18 helmet requirement is good, but he's against the double-riding ban.

``I've been riding since I was 6 years old, and I've seen far fewer crashes with two riders than with one,'' he said. ``When people have passengers, they slow down.''

A study conducted at the Trauma Emergency Center at St. Francis Hospital in Tulsa found 25% of people treated for ATV-related injuries were passengers. The study covered March 2003 through July 2005 and showed 48 of the 193 people treated were passengers. One passenger died, and 48% were admitted to the hospital. About 75% of those injured in ATV accidents were under 18; seven were under age 5.

In a bill signing ceremony on July 17, Governor Brad Henry said the law will save lives, and state Representative Bill Nations called it ``a reasonable way to begin reversing the increases in ATV injuries and deaths in Oklahoma's children.''