Bill would allow all-terrain vehicles on public roads in NC

bsiceloff@newsobserver.comJuly 11, 2013 

— Safety advocates are criticizing a House committee proposal to let North Carolinians drive all-terrain vehicles on some public roads.

People who make and sell ATVs say it’s a dangerous idea, too.

“ATVs aren’t designed for the highway,” Chris Brewer, who owns an Oxford ATV and motorcycle dealership, said Thursday. “They don’t have turn signals. A few have brake lights. They don’t have horns or mirrors.”

The new proposal emerged Wednesday as the House was about to consider a Senate bill making minor changes in the legal definition of an all-terrain vehicle. Rep. Tim Moore, a Republican from King’s Mountain, announced that the bill would be withdrawn from the floor for reconsideration by the Rules Committee, which he chairs.

The Rules Committee retained language in the bill defining ATVs as “manufactured for off-highway use.” But the committee added new language authorizing counties to allow ATV drivers over age 15 on roads where the speed limit is posted at 35 mph or lower.

“These vehicles are not intended to be on the road,” said Tom Vitaglione, who lobbies for child safety with the nonprofit group Action for Children. “In fact, they’re more dangerous on the road than off the road. We think this will raise crash rates and mortality rates for teens.”

Moore could not be reached for comment.

ATVs have low-pressure tires and are different from riding lawnmowers and utility vehicles. The driver straddles the seat and steers with handlebars. Brewer said most of his customers use their vehicles on farms and trails.

Vitaglione said injuries and deaths have fallen sharply since North Carolina adopted ATV safety rules in 2005, including helmet requirements and age restrictions. Manufacturers supported the safety rules, and they issued a statement Thursday opposing the House proposal to allow ATVs on public roads.

“We believe that state laws prohibiting ATV operation on public roads prevent many ATV-related injuries and deaths,” Kathy R. Van Kleeck, senior vice president for the Washington-based Special Vehicle Institute of America, said in a prepared statement.

The ATV bill is scheduled for a House floor vote Monday.

Siceloff: 919-829-4527 or or

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