Children, ATVs A Foolish Mix

Benwood police were right to arrest a man whose alleged reckless behavior put a child in the hospital. Perhaps more arrests in similar situations would reduce the number of youngsters hurt in all-terrain vehicle accidents.

West Virginia has one of the highest rates of injuries and deaths related to ATV use in the nation. Despite state laws placing some limits on ATV use, too many Mountain State residents continue to take chances with the vehicles.

It is one thing for an adult to risk his or her safety by misusing an ATV. It is quite another thing for adults to allow or even encourage hazardous behavior by minors.

In the Benwood case, the man who has been arrested allegedly was driving an ATV a high speed on a city street Sunday afternoon, when a tire somehow caught on the pavement. Both the man and the 3-year-old child he was carrying were thrown from the ATV and injured.

The child had to be taken to West Virginia Children’s Hospital in Morgantown. The adult driver was treated and released at a local hospital.

Neither he nor the child was wearing a helmet. State law requires that anyone under 18 be wearing a helmet while driving or riding on an ATV.

Too many West Virginians treat ATVs as if they are toys. They are not. Even at low speeds they can roll over. At higher speeds, drivers can lose control for any number of reasons.

Yet, as we have remarked previously, the sight of children racing ATVs around, sometimes off the road and sometimes on, is common. Most of the time, adults have handed them the keys.

It’s time for local law enforcement agencies to crack down on irresponsible adults who place children at risk on ATVs.

Benwood Police Chief Frank Longwell said it well. Speaking of the Sunday crash, he told our reporter, “Only a fool would put a 3-year-old on an ATV without a helmet and speed up and down on an asphalt road.”

Precisely. That type of stupidity is criminal and should be dealt with as such.