Local News

ATVs Are Vehicles for All Terrains Except Highways

Posted February 22, 1999

— Whether you are taking on snow drifts or rugged terrain, four-wheelers can be a fun way to cruise around. But, some people are taking that fun ride on the road and driving too close to traffic. That can be dangerous and deadly.

TheConsumer Product Safety Commissionsays 91 people died riding on four-wheel ATVs last year. Monday night, two more were killed in our state while riding an off-road vehicle in the street.

Robbie Woodard is a mover and a shaker. Since he was 5 years old, the Wilson County native has enjoyed all-terrain vehicles.

His latest love is the four-wheeled ATV. Off-road, he says, it is one of the safest and most versatile machines around.

"If you've got a friend that lives nearby, you can jump on one of these and cut through a path and be right there, you know. I mean, they can be used on farms. They're pretty good for pulling and stuff," said Woodard.

But if you ride a four-wheeler in the wrong place, you could be putting your life on the line. Monday night in Robeson County, two 18-year-old men died when they ran into a car on Quick Road near the town of Maxton.

ATVs do not require a driver's license, so it is tempting for unlicensed drivers to use them as cars. Experts say that is a dangerous idea.

"They were designed for off-road use only, and a lot of people, not a lot, but there is the one percent who want to ride them on the road, and it is not designed for that at all," said Les Ellis of Carolina Motorsports.

They go fast, upwards of 50 miles an hour, and they look like motorcycles, but they do not handle the road the same way.

The biggest problem is the tires. They are designed for uneven surfaces. They barely make contact with paved roads. Ellis says that is why it is so easy to lose control on the highway.

"They're cleated. They're made for dirt and mud and sand, and they're not made for asphalt," said Ellis.

Another important rule is to wear your helmet. The Consumer Products Safety Commission says that 14,000 people were hurt last year because they wrecked their ATVs without a helmet.


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