NC Takes a Step Backward on ATV Safety Regulation

North Carolina lawmakers passed a bill loosening the safety rules for adult riders of all-terrain vehicles, commonly known as ATVs. This means that when the bill goes into effect on October 1, 2011, adults will be exempt from wearing helmets and eye protection while riding on private property.

This is just plain goofy. Governor Beverly Purdue refused to sign the bill into law (showing that at least someone in government is concerned with safety issues), but the bill becomes law anyway. According to an article in the News & Observer:

Perdue spokeswoman Chrissy Pearson said Friday the governor understands the concept of personal freedom behind the bill but she didn’t sign it as a symbol of her concern about the bill’s negative effect on public safety. Pearson likened ATV restrictions to child safety seat and motorcycle helmet requirements.

“They’re all designed to protect our citizens,” she said.

ATVs are used for recreation, and people come to think of them as a safe form of fun. They have four big wheels and are low to the ground, so they look innocuous. They are not. in 2009 (the latest year statistics have been reported), there were more than 130,000 ATV-related injuries that required treatment in an emergency room. According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), head injuries are common. The agency recommends wearing a helmet certified by the U.S. Department of Transportation. NC legislators, however, have now given adults the option to stop wearing a helmet. We require helmets for bicycle riders, but not motorized ATV pilots? Goofy.

HensonFuerst Attorneys handle many cases of brain injury, and this is not something to be taken lightly. Lives are ruined. We urge all ATV riders to wear a helmet, regardless of what the law says. Protect your head. Protect your life.

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