WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) - A lot of young people are hoping to get ATVs for Christmas this year. The four-wheelers can be a lot of fun, but they can also be dangerous if you don't know what you're doing.
While ATV manufacturers suggest no one under six operate these vehicles, North Carolina law requires all operators of ATV's to be at least eight years of age, and must always wear a helmet. And until an operator is eighteen years old, an adult must be supervising.
"If you come into the dealership and we start discussing your child, and immediately you tell me that you are looking for an ATV for a child under the age of eight, by North Carolina law, I have to stop you right there and tell you that I am not allowed to sell you anything," said Shane Bullard, a salesman at Wilmington Powersports.
But not all people obey the law, and too often, this is what has happened. Just last month, a 7-year-old boy died in North Carolina while riding an ATV in the Charlotte area.
Just seven years ago, the age limit to operate or ride an ATV in North Carolina was five. State lawmakers wanted to increase it to the age of sixteen, but had to accept a compromise to the current age of eight. The legislator who fought for the increased age, Senator Bill Purcell of Scotland County, hopes the issue of raising the age limit to sixteen will be introduced into the General Assembly in the session that begins in January.
"It was a very difficult issue, because there was a lot of opposition, people saying you were taking away the rights of some parents, you know, all of that kind of stuff," said Purcell. "But I don't mind taking away the rights from a parent, if it saves a child's life."
"Accidents happen, and sometimes it kinds of ruins the mood, so if you protect your kids, because bumps and bruises to happen, but after that, you get to enjoy it and grow with the industry," said Bullard.
And Bullard says to be on the safe side, he recommends all riders be outfitted with not only helmet and goggles, but also with different body pads and boots that are available, to help prevent cuts and bruises, in case an accident does happen.
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