Sources say that despite concerns raised by local groups, Owen County in Indiana is continuing to draft its plans of allowing motorists and car owners to drive around in ATVs on public highways. This decision to allow all-terrain vehicles to be driven on county roads is causing the public to worry that drivers will not obtain appropriate insurance and registrations needed, and some may not even bother to install necessary safety devices.
Owen County, said to be the most rustic county in the state and located approximately 50 miles southwest of Indianapolis, recently approved an ordinance that will legalize use of all-terrain vehicles or ATVs on county highways. Although their attorneys advised not to proceed with what they are planning, county commissioners passed this ordinance. Reports say that if the meeting scheduled this December 21 goes well, commissioners will sign this ordinance and it will then officially become a law. Included in the provisions of this proposed new law will allow young drivers aged 14 and up to drive around county roads using ATV’s, provided that a parent or guardian is one of the passengers supervising the young driver.
This is where complaints come in as local groups worry that teenagers, especially those who do not have driver’s licenses yet, will end up in dangerous situations and may even be involved in accidents.
According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, reports involving serious injuries and even deaths filed by ATV users more than multiplied in number from 1997 to 2007. The agency adds that accidents involving children and teenagers are more frequent than those involving adult drivers.
Commissioner Wiley Truesdel, who is one of the few who vetoed the ordinance, said that making ATV use in Owen County legal is nothing, but trouble. Commissioner Truesdel said if in the past years the deputies were unsuccessful in regulating use of ATVs, what makes them think that they can regulate it now, now that it is legal?
On the other hand, Attorney Richard Lorenz, also does not support the ordinance, noting that some people may already use all-terrain vehicles in Owen County, but the use is limited to their backyards, the park, and very short distances. Attorney Lorenz adds that the main problem with legalizing ATV use is that it is nearly unenforceable – the public will reason that ATVs are not cars; they will have the general idea that they can leave their houses and travel with these things, not even bothering to think about payment of fees and proper registration.