What parents need to know about ATVs

The American Academy of Pediatrics promotes that no child younger than 16 should operate an ATV. The South Carolina Legislature with Chandler’s Law has an alternate approach for our rural state by legislating the use of safety equipment and training and making parents liable for the actions of their children. The purpose of the legislation is to decrease the number of ATV-related deaths of children in South Carolina.

Children’s brains do not fully develop until their early 20s, meaning that they don’t always make the best decisions or have fully developed their motor and reflex skills. More than 85 percent of ATV accidents and fatalities nationwide happened when no adult is supervising. At the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) Children’s Hospital, almost all ATV-related injuries or deaths that have occurred since 2004 happened when no adult was present.

A child who is properly trained, riding the right size ATV and wearing safety equipment has a much better chance of avoiding accidents or being seriously injured in an ATV-related accident.

If your child uses ATVs, it is likely that someday your child will ride on public land, even if it is as simple as crossing a public road. In addition to the training and regulations on equipments, additional rules apply to ATV use on public land.

Chandler’s Law gives parents another tool to use when kids are operating ATVs. Some children, especially teens, may be reluctant to wear safety equipment. Other children might be tempted to take passengers on ATVs. Parents can now give very clear guidelines on these behaviors to their children and tell them that "it’s the law."

Children, especially teenagers, like to make their own decisions and at times these decisions aren’t the safest. For parents, a child’s decisions could result in criminal charges.

The following are two fictional examples of the impact of Chandler’s Law.

Scenario 1*

You have given permission for your child to ride on your private property as long as he/she stays in sight of you. He/she is riding in a field that is next to a wooded area. According to the law, your child does not need to meet training and safety equipment requirements as long as you visually supervise them. He/she decides it would be fun to take a spin through the woods, forgetting about your request to stay in plain sight. As soon as they are out of sight, they will need to meet the requirements of the law in terms of training, safety equipment, passengers, and riding the right size ATV.

Scenario 2*

You drop your son off at a friend’s house for the afternoon. He and his friend decide to ride ATVs on private property owned by his friend’s parents. Because you are not there to visually supervise your son, he will need to have completed the training class, be riding a right size ATV, and be wearing safety equipment. (Note: Although the friend’s parent is supervising both boys, the friend’s parent is not the legal guardian of your child.)

* The information provided is not professional advice nor does transmission of this information create an attorney-client relationship. User should consult their own attorneys before taking or failing to take action based on content provided.

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