Editor:

I am a resident of San Juan County and live in the Bloomfield area. I feel compelled to write this letter in an attempt to draw attention to a very serious but preventable problem.

all-terrain vehicle (ATV) accidents are a major problem in this country, the death and injury statistics are astronomical.

Ownership of an ATV comes with personal responsibility. ATV operation is restrictive for a reason so don't own one or even think about buying one unless you are willing to comply with the law and manufacturer recommendations. In this county there is a never ending display of how not to operate an ATV. Many of these riders are children but unfortunately the adult operators contribute to this action as well, which is usually fueled by several cans of liquid courage. It's been my experience that when you combine machines with inexperience, overconfidence, irresponsibility, ego, booze or just plain stupidity, you will get a negative result. I am under no illusion that this letter will change stupid adult behavior. However, I hope it does draw attention to the complacent attitude regarding children operating ATVs. ATVs can weigh more than 700 lbs. and can be difficult for inexperienced riders to operate. They have short wheel bases and large knobby tires giving them a high center of gravity which makes them maneuverable OFF ROAD WHERE THEY ARE INTENDED TO OPERATE. These same design features make these machines less stable at higher speeds and extremely susceptible to rollover especially with the weight of a rider sitting on the very top. These machines are not toys to put your child on to keep them entertained while you do something else.

Parents/Adults at the very least:

Get your child the free (required) operator training.

Only allow them on a machine appropriate for their age. Age requirement are clearly marked on the fender of all ATVs.

Make them wear a helmet and eye protection.

Off Road Only, One machine one rider, No passengers.

Visually monitor rider activity.

This should not be a law enforcement problem but it has become one.

I'm not anti-ATV, these machines have many uses when used as intended. I am however damned tired of repeatedly reading about the senseless preventable accidents involving these machines.

 

TIM SHARPE

Bloomfield