In April the North Carolina Senate passed a bill to loosen restrictions on adult ATV riders. The bill was then sent to Governor Beverly Perdue to be signed into law. Governor Perdue had serious concerns about the damaging effects it would have on overall public safety. She chose not to sign the bill as a representation of her concern.
The bill was passed anyway; even without the governor’s signature. There is a legal deadline that a governor must meet in signing a bill into law; after that deadline passes, the bill is automatically made a law. Lawmakers that supported the legislation say it’s a matter of government interference into personal freedoms.
Restrictions’ regarding helmet and eye protection was enacted in 2005. This new law will allow adults to bypass the helmet and eye protection laws when they are riding ATV’s on private property. The adults will still have to wear helmet and eye protection on public streets.
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A report in the Journal of Neurosurgery shows over 1.1 million emergency room visits from ATV accidents, and 495 deaths nationwide. The estimated national cost for ATV associated injuries is more than 3 billion dollars annually.
Another report from the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons shows that 7.4 percent of injuries are spinal injuries, (not counting traumatic brain and head injuries). Several of the injuries that appear in emergency rooms are severe enough to require amputation; mainly, of fingers, toes and legs.
The opposition to the bill argued that this new law will result in more head trauma incidents, and may involve younger children who are trying to be like their parents or role model while ATV riding. The new law is set to take effect on October 1st of this year.