Another danger to the mix

Published 5:18 pm Monday, July 15, 2013

Most drivers take the shortest route from point A to point B, usually because he or she wants to get to a destination as soon as possible. That’s not the case for drivers of all-terrain vehicles: they aren’t allowed on public roads.

That may be changing soon as Charlotte-area state senator has put forward a bill that would change current law, and give city and county governments the ability to regulate the operation of ATVs, and golf carts, on public roads.

There are conditions: no person under the age of 16 may operate a golf cart or vehicle on those public roads and those 16 and older may only drive those vehicles on roads where the posted speed limit is 35 miles per hour or less.

Sure, that will help ATV riders get from point A to point B a little faster, but safety is the real issue here. The majority of ATVs don’t have brake lights; they don’t have turn signals, horns or mirrors. And even the manufacturers and dealers of ATVs are letting people know they’re not on board with the plan.

Since 2005, when North Carolina adopted ATV safety regulations, injuries and fatalities caused by ATVs have dropped dramatically. The concern now is that allowing ATVs “manufactured for off-highway use” on the roads will bring the crash and mortality rates right back up. While golf carts are allowed on public roads in some places, the average golf cart only travels at 12 mph to 14 mph. ATVs are faster. Depending on the model, they can be much faster.

The roads are dangerous enough. Do we really need to add another element to the mix?