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New Law Mandates ATV Safety Courses For Kids

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WENDELL, N.C. — It's easy to see how riding a four-wheeler can really get your motor running. Especially when you're all of 9 years old, like Jamie Lucas. Her dad, Joseph, is taking note.

"She's a little gung-ho," Joseph Lucas said. "She loves to push the limits, I think."

On a field in Wendell on Saturday, all-terrain vehicle safety instructors taught young riders what those limits are. The free session covered riding basics, proper posture and safe speeds.

"I like going fast, but slow is much safer," Jamie Lucas said.

In 2004 -- the most recent data available -- 11 children under the age of 16 died in ATV accidents in North Carolina. Making ATV riding safer became North Carolina law in December. No one under 8 years old can ride, and those under 16 years old must be supervised. Also, helmets and goggles must be worn.

Kids are also getting a jumpstart on another aspect of the law. Starting Oct. 1, kids who want to ride an ATV and were born after Jan. 1, 1990, must complete a certified safety course before they start riding.

Once certification is received, it's good for as long as the person wants to ride.

"Riding is fun, it can be fun, as long as it's done in a safe manner," said instructor Velvet Waters.

All Jamie Lucas needs now is an ATV that's right for her age -- another legal must.

"Looks like we'll be buying us a four-wheeler their size real soon," said her father.

If law enforcement officers catch riders violating any part of the ATV safety law, they could be slapped with a fine of up to $200.


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