Now that spring is starting to heat up, it’s time for us to get outdoors and enjoy some time exploring all that West Virginia has to offer. All-terrain vehicles (ATVs) become more popular this time of year, but do you know all the rules regarding their operation? We’ve compiled this guide so you can use your ATVs safely all season long. Here’s what you need to know:
Who Can Ride an ATV?
West Virginia law does not specify a minimum age for riding an ATV. It does, however, have certain restrictions to help prevent injuries from ATV accidents. The following rules apply to anyone under the age of 18:
- Any minor driving an ATV must be wearing a helmet.
- Before driving at ATV for the first time, all minors must complete a rider awareness safety course.
- No minor is allowed to be a passenger on an ATV unless it’s specifically built for more than one rider.
In addition to state laws, ATV manufacturers are often required to post age recommendations and safety precautions. This helps decrease the chances of being in an accident. Check your ATV’s label to see the rider recommendations. The warning labels may include information such as:
- A circle with the words under (age) and a red diagonal line,
- Adult supervision required under (age)
- Never permit children under (age) to operate, or
- Operation of this ATV by children under (age) increases risk of death or severe injury
Heeding these rules is important not only to ensure your child’s safety, but also for legal reasons. If you knowingly allow your child to operate an ATV that’s not age-appropriate, you may be legally, even criminally, responsible for any injuries or damages that result.
Common Sense Rules for West Virginia ATVs
Even though there aren’t strict laws for those operating an ATV over the age of 18 in West Virginia, we recommend taking a common sense approach to safety:
- Never operate an ATV without instruction or training.
- Don’t use an ATV on public roads.
- Only use ATVs as directed – for example, don’t carry a passenger unless your unit is intended for more than one rider.
- Never use alcohol while operating an ATV – it’s the law!
- Always wear a helmet, regardless of your age.
- Be a role model for your children, younger friends, and peers.
West Virginia ATV Accident Statistics
Though ATVs are an enjoyable way to take in the summer sunshine, consider the following:
- West Virginia averages 23 deaths a year from ATV accidents.
- 95% of these victims weren’t wearing a helmet.
- A third of these crashes involved a passenger.
- About 40% of crashes occur on paved roads – use on paved roads is illegal according to West Virginia law.
- Nearly a quarter of deaths from ATV accidents involve children aged 16 and younger.
- 22% of ATV crashes involve drugs or alcohol.
Be Smart. Be Safe. Get Help.
West Virginia offers a wealth of recreational opportunities this time of year. Exploring our state’s natural beauty on an all-terrain vehicle can be a wonderful way to enjoy your spring and summer days. We recommend taking a common-sense approach to safety and adhering to all state laws. ATV accidents are preventable, and using your ATV safely will ensure a happy summer for all.
If you’ve been harmed by an ATV, another party, such as a manufacturer or other driver may be responsible. If this is the case, you may be entitled to compensation for your injuries. Talk to one of our West Virginia motor vehicle accident lawyers for a strategic and confidential review of your options. We offer our services on a contingency-fee basis, so you only pay if we win.