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Is Proposed ATV Safety Bill Fair?

Rural residents in West Virginia are upset at proposed ATV legislation designed to cut down on deadly accidents.
A Senate committee has ok'd a bill that would ban four wheelers from paved roads and prohibit ATV riders from carrying passengers if the four wheeler is designed for one passenger. Homer Williams drives through Mingo and Wayne Counties with no driver's license. A four wheeler's all he's got. Homer says, "Ain't no way I can get around. I ain't got no ride; I got no car."

West Virginia's Legislature is debating safety after the deadliest year on record. At least 54 people died in 2006.

Emory Marcum has a Chevy Blazer that's got a bad transmission. He says it's going to get worse before it gets better. His only other alternative is a four wheeler.Marcum says, "It's a survival issue. You got to have food. If my Blazer's torn up, I can't walk all the way to the store."

James Parsley of Mingo County says it's just another example of the government trying to take away citizen's rights. Parsley says, "Anymore, people ain't got no rights to do much. You can't do nothing no more."

A tougher law in 2004, banning four wheelers from roads with center lines and requiring helmets for children is one thing, but the feeling of some in Mingo County is tightening the law even more is going to squeeze some people. Homer Williams says he'll run out of options. "I got to go on the roadways. It's the only way to go," Williams says, "I don't know what I'll do. I'm stuck."

The Senate measure would also allow counties and municipalities to pass their own ATV regulations, like the city of Kenova did recently. That means some cities could decide to allow the vehicles on some paved roads.

The bill is now on it's way to the Senate Judiciary Committee for further review.


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