ATVs or four-wheelers, are undoubtedly helpful to anyone who travels off-road for work, hunting or simply enjoys the countryside. Unfortunately they are getting a bad reputation because of careless use and a sometimes lack of courtesy and respect by some users.
These handy small vehicles can be hauled in the bed of a truck or on a small trailer behind a truck ready to carry you off road to the trail,across the fields or into the woods at a minute’s notice. How helpful this can be for an elderly or person with some physical handicap who may not have the endurance level of their childhood. For these individuals, ATVs create a jaunt through the woods that would otherwise be a fond memory an actuality.
Unfortunately, as with most inventions there’s a downside. Where 4-wheelers give freedom of movement to people who might be restricted in motion, they also give trespassers up a leg on landowners.
Imagine the shock when a property owner finds out that four-wheelers or ATVs have designated a portion of his land as a main thoroughfare. Many farms and homesteads contain creeks and streams which have weekend destinations for years. They were before the 4-wheelers moved in.
Many children and adults alike ignore the fact that in some states there’s a public waterways law. This is a law that states that any individual that rides a motorized vehicle within the bed of any public waterway without written permission granted by the landowner is breaking the law and may be punished.
The disturbance of streambeds and banks is illegal as well. The stirred sediment is disruptive to the natural ecosystem. The fish eggs are suffocated in addition to the insect eggs and larvae that feed the fish according to a brochure distributed by the Mississippi Museum of Natural Science. An enjoyable weekend zipping through the creek beds carries a countless toll on juvenile fish and invertebrates that may take several years to overcome.
Then there’s always the use and abuse of alcohol. There are many underage drivers who believe there are no speeding tickets or DUIs while driving on private land or in the forests. This isn’t to say that the use of any mind altering impairing substance is a good idea while operating a piece of machinery by anybody, but young people with less experience tend to make more mistakes in decision as a whole. Get alcohol involved and things really can get dangerous. There are many known cases of underage riders as young as thirteen being apprehended hauling coolers full of beer. If a rider is caught carrying crystal methamphetamine while riding a streambed, this could bring about a search and possibly a felony conviction.
Young drivers often make the mistake of using their household ATV or bike to ride on public streets. They believe that is a way to begin driving before reaching the legal age. Needless to say, there is very few times in such a scenario that the ATV rider comes out well.
If you own an ATV and have kids at home, it would be in their best interests that you review the guidelines for them concerning their legal and safe usage. Don’t wait for the police to come knocking on your door to have this conversation.