West Virginia Ranks Highest In Deaths By ATV - WBOY.com: Clarksburg, Morgantown: News, Sports, Weather

West Virginia Ranks Highest In Deaths By ATV

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All-terrain vehicles are made for off-road use, but large numbers of people take them on public roads.

Statistics said 1,700 ATV riders died in crashes on public roads in the United States from 2007 to 2011.

Many ATVs can reach highway speeds and their low-pressure tires are not designed for paved surfaces. This can result in many models rolling over.

Deaths of ATV drivers and passengers have increased substantially during the past few decades, as the vehicles have risen in popularity.

"ATV accidents are more frequent during the warmer months of course. We also got a good many during hunting season. I would say, without looking at the statistics, we probably respond to at least a couple a week during the warmer months," said Courtney Shaver, Marion County Rescue Squad.

A recent study ranks West Virginia as the state with the highest rate of deadly ATV accidents.

There were 18 ATV-related accidents reported in Marion County during 2013, according to 911 officials.

First responders said they aren't surprised by the numbers.

"Being involved and knowing the kind of things that go on, it really doesn't shock me. Education is a problem and all ATV owners need to be responsible and need to be safe and take the education that these dealerships provide," Shaver said.

When it comes to an ATV accident, most are going to take place in the woods or on back roads. This could cause the response time to be longer then normal.

"County fire departments, they have areas that are far back in the woods. Rugged, terrain. They may need a four-wheeler themselves to get to the patient. Location of the accident is definitely a key in how we respond," said Lt. David Perkins, Fairmont Fire Department.

Authorities said West Virginia does not have a law that requires riders age 18 or older to wear a helmet when operating an ATV.

"When you have an ATV accident where a child has been thrown off or rolled over by an ATV, it really gets you because you know they don't belong there in the first place," Shaver said.

The study said a lot of attention has been paid to ATV fatalities among children. But in recent years, most fatally injured ATV riders have been men.

90 percent of the ATV driver deaths in the federal government's database of fatal crashes were 16 and older, and 90 percent were males.

So how do we decrease those numbers? First responders say it all comes down to education.

"We all like to be a little crazy on them and maybe be a dare devil. Play it safe," Lt. Perkins said. "If you are new at a four wheeler, don't push it past its capabilities."

The City of Fairmont does ban ATV's from its downtown streets but it is free game in the rural communities that surround it.