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Should the NH House have banned 12 and 13-year-olds from operating ATVs, snowmobiles, and other OHRVs on public roads?

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On Tuesday, March 6 the New Hampshire House passed a bill that requires more adult supervision for youngsters riding off-highway recreational vehicles (OHRVs) – but still allows children age twelve and older to ride on public roads.

Details of the age restrictions in HB 1365

You must be at least twelve years-old and complete a training program to operate an OHRV on New Hampshire roads. Any operators without a driver’s license must also be accompanied by a licensed adult over age eighteen.

The bill passed on Tuesday, HB 1365, adds additional requirements for OHRV operators on public roads:

  • Minors without a driver’s license must carry proof of parental consent and proof of permission from the owner of the OHRV.
  • Operators without a driver’s license must be accompanied by a licensed adult over age twenty-five – unless the adult is a family member, in which case the licensed adult only needs to be eighteen years-old.

Minors operating OHRVs on family-owned land and other off-road trails may be exempt from these rules.

Should 12 year-olds be on NH roads?

Before the House revised and passed HB 1365, the bill would have also required any OHRV operator on public roads to be at least fourteen years-old.

Some safety advocates argue that twelve and thirteen year-olds are too young to operate OHRVs on roads alongside cars and trucks.

Is parental permission enough?

Supporters of HB 1365 argue that requiring proof of parental permission is enough to protect the safety of minors operating OHRVs on public roads. They believe a parent is the best judge of when a minor is mature enough to operate a vehicle safely.

There are also other laws in place to protect the safety of minors on OHRVs. For example, anyone under age eighteen must wear a helmet and eye protection.

Do you think HB 1365 goes far enough to protect children operating OHRVs on public roads? Share your opinion in the comments below.


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It has gone too far. Parents should make the call. By the time my son or my grandkids reached 12 years old they had been taught the rules and responsibility. They could operate a machine better than most adults. OHRVs are a cash cow for northern NH, but this will change if legislators keep making it harder for families to enjoy themselves!

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