ATVs or four-wheelers, are definitely beneficial to anyone who travels off-road for work, hunting or just enjoys the countryside. Unfortunately they are getting a bad reputation due to careless usage and a sometimes lack of courtesy and respect by some users.
These handy little vehicles can be hauled in the bed of a truck or on a small trailer behind a truck ready to transport you off road to the road,across the fields or in the woods at a minute’s notice. How helpful this can be for an elderly or person with some physical impairment who might not have the endurance level of their youth. For these individuals, ATVs create a jaunt through the forests that would otherwise be a fond memory an actuality.
Unfortunately, as with the majority of inventions there’s a downside. Where 4-wheelers give freedom of movement to people who might be limited in movement, they also give trespassers up a leg on landowners.
Imagine the shock when a property owner finds that four-wheelers or ATVs have designated a portion of his property as a principal thoroughfare. Many farms and homesteads include creeks and streams which have weekend destinations for years. They were before the 4-wheelers moved in.
Many kids and adults alike ignore the fact that in some states there’s a public waterways law. This is a law which states that any individual that rides a motorized vehicle within the bed of any public waterway without written consent given by the landowner is breaking the law and might be punished.
The disturbance of streambeds and banks is prohibited as well. The stirred sediment is disruptive to the natural ecosystem. An enjoyable weekend zipping through the creek beds carries a countless toll on juvenile fish and invertebrates that may take many years to overcome.
Then there’s always the use and misuse of alcohol. There are many underage drivers that believe there are no speeding tickets or DUIs while driving on private property or in the forests. This isn’t to say that the use of any mind altering impairing substance is a good idea while managing a piece of machinery by anybody, but young people with less experience tend to make more errors in decision as a whole. Get alcohol involved and things really can get dangerous. There are many famous cases of underage riders as young as thirteen being apprehended hauling coolers full of beer. If a rider is caught carrying crystal methamphetamine when riding a streambed, this may bring about a hunt and a felony conviction.
Young drivers often make the mistake of using their household ATV or bike to ride on public roads. They think this is a way to begin driving before reaching the legal age. Needless to say, there’s very few times in such a situation the ATV rider comes out nicely.
If you have an ATV and have children at home, it will be in their best interests for you to review the guidelines for them as to their legal and safe usage. Do not wait for the authorities to come knocking on your door to have this conversation.