BY: Citizens Count
Riding all-terrain vehicles (ATVs) through the Granite State wilderness is often a family affair—something that some state and national health officials say needs to change.
No ATV age limits in NH
New Hampshire law does not set any minimum age for driving or riding four-wheelers on state trails and private property. Kids 12 and up can even drive ATVs on approved public roads without a license, as long as they have taken a safety course and have an adult present with them.
Problems with young ATV drivers
The Consumer Product Safety Commission warns against allowing any child under 6 to ride on or drive an ATV. The American Academy of Pediatrics argues only those 16 and up should be allowed to use such vehicles.
State Rep. Steven Smith, who chairs the New Hampshire House Transportation Committee, has recently stated that he is open to an age requirement for riding traditional, non-enclosed ATVs.
Those in favor of the state setting an age minimum for riding on and operating ATVs believe it would be in the best interest of public health. Four-wheeler accidents often cause head trauma and spine injuries—injuries that can do lasting damage to developing bodies. Young operators may also lack the maturity to operate a motorized vehicle. Along with protecting young people, an age limit could also reduce the strain on enforcement agencies—particularly New Hampshire Fish and Game.
Opposition to an ATV age limit
Those opposed to age minimums for four-wheelers point out that ATV recreation is a boon to local economies. Further, they believe that driving ATVs can be a great way for kids to learn how to operate motor vehicles safely and responsibly before they get their drivers licenses. Many families explore the beauty of the Granite State together on four-wheelers. Adding stricter age regulations to the state laws could mean some family members have to stay home.
What do you think? Should New Hampshire set an age minimum for operating ATVs? Let us know by leaving a comment – yes or no – in the comments section below.