A Kentucky Senate Committee has adopted legislation to lessen helmet requirements for certain all-terrain vehicle operators.
The measure was offered by Monticello Senator Sarah Beth Gregory.
Kentucky law currently requires recreational ATV drivers to wear a helmet when traveling on public roads. There are exceptions for travel related to such things as mining, agriculture, and snow removal.
Gregory's proposal permits all-terrain vehicle operators 16 and older to cross public roadways without a helmet. She says state law already allows ATV use on private property without protective headgear. “But, it doesn’t provide that you may cross from private property to private property without a helmet, so all my bill does is add to the exceptions that it’s permitted to cross a public roadway without a helmet on an ATV,” said Gregory.
The legislation pertains to public roadways with posted speed limits of 55 miles per hour or less. Gregory says the measure sets out a specified travel distance. “The statute defines that actually as two tenths of a mile, so it is fairly limited but it will allow people from one piece of private property to another across the road, if they are trail riding or seeking to access other parts of their own property,” added Gregory.
Testimony in committee came from Bill Bell with the State Office of Highway Safety. Bell believes such a change in law would increase hazards for ATV riders. “We’ve had 12 fatalities in 2013, just ATV fatalities on the roadways. Of those 12 fatalities, all 12 were not wearing helmets, so we feel like this bill is going in the wrong direction,” said Bell.
Bell admits officials with his agency would like to see all individuals on ATV’S wearing protective headgear. “If everyone is wearing a helmet that’s over 16 or if everyone’s wearing a helmet while on ATV’S while on the roadways then that makes enforcement really easy. If you have all these exceptions, it makes enforcement very tough and near impossible,” said Bell.
The ATV bill unanimously passed the Senate Transportation Committee and now goes on the Senate floor.