ATV and motorcycle safety

Published 7:00 am Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Over the weekend a 16-year-old all-terrain vehicle operator ran a stop sign and was struck by a pickup truck in Hancock County. He died as a result of his injuries.

ATVs are popular in Mississippi, in part due to the abundance of wooded areas. While I don’t own an ATV, I ride a motorcycle from time to time.

There are motorcycle safety regulations in this state, but very few for ATV riders. One state regulation all ATV operators should abide by is not driving them on public roads.

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In order to legally operate a motorcycle, Mississippi drivers are required to pass a written and driving skills test. After taking the written portion, my driving skills test consisted of turning the motorcycle in a tight circle three consecutive times each in both the clockwise and counterclockwise directions. While I make it sound easy, it was a bit of a challenge. However, other states have more grueling tests that I feel more adequately prepare operators for the dangers on the road. According to the Alabama’s Department of Motor Vehicle website, prospective motorcycle operators must demonstrate their “abilities with basic control skills, hand signals, safe acceleration and braking, traffic awareness and other critical components of the motorcycle riding experience.”

Additionally, all motorcycle operators and riders in most states are legally required to wear a DOT approved helmet.

However, adult ATV riders in Mississippi are not required to wear a helmet. But, state laws do require underage ATV drivers, 16 and younger, to wear a helmet.

We all know that laws are not always abided by, but some form of formal training would be beneficial in reducing the number of accidents, fatal or otherwise, for both motorcycle and ATV riders.

Safety courses are offered in Mississippi, but demonstrating extensive operating skills before earning your motorcycle endorsement is not required.

Even though I’ve been operating a motorcycle for more than a few years, I feel I could benefit from some formal training to help escape an emergency situation. You’re never too old or experienced to learn something new that could potentially save your life.