Wesley Sandlin, 26, of Jasper, was airlifted to UAB Hospital after a four-wheeler accident early Sunday morning. Sandlin sustained several injuries, including a broken neck, back, collar bone, shoulder blades and numerous broken ribs. Surgery was scheduled for Monday afternoon to correct issues with his back and neck.
Friends and family members left encouraging messages on Sandlin’s Facebook page praying for him and sending positive thoughts for a speedy recovery. Unfortunately, other ATV-related accidents didn’t result in the same outcome as Sandlin’s; for example, the recent deaths of Maddox Middle School student Gracie Abbott and Hueytown resident Joshua Blake Harper.
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, ATV safety laws fall under a state’s legislature rather than federal highway safety regulations. In Alabama, the only requirement is that “foster parents are required to equip their foster children with a helmet and seatbelt while operating or riding in an ATV.”
Safety messages and tips are emphasized through different ATV dealerships and websites, but there are no laws regarding ATV use except for Alabama Statute Section 32-1-7, which states: “(a) It shall be unlawful to operate a motor vehicle, motorcycle or motor driven cycle as they are defined by Section 32-1-1.1 on the beaches and sand dunes on the Gulf of Mexico along the southern boundary of the State of Alabama off of the public roads, parking places and private driveways.”
It continues to state that “Provided, however, owners of private property, their families, and invited guests may park their motor vehicles on their private property; and provided that motor vehicles engaged in the construction, maintenance or repair of utility facilities may be operated on such beaches and sand dunes to the extent necessary to carry out such construction, repair or maintenance of utility facilities; and provided further that motor vehicles actively engaged in construction projects may be operated on sites for which building permits have been issued by the proper building inspector or authority.”
More and more people are purchasing ATVs each year, making it a popular item among young adults, teenagers and young children.
Approximately 11 million ATVs were in use across the country in 2010, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Power Sports Business stated that “225,244 ATVs were sold in 2012, a 1.4 percent sales increase from 2011.”
The ATV Safety Institute provides information for ATV owners and potential buyers on the differences between ATVs and other vehicles, safety tips and the basics of operating an off-road vehicle. Wearing the appropriate gear, such as helmets, eye protection and even clothing can help prevent or at least reduce the impacts of a serious injury.
The institute also asks riders to inspect their ATV before beginning, check a riding area for possible hazards, bring an experienced friend along in case something goes wrong, do not consume alcohol or other drugs while riding, do not carry passengers on a single-rider ATV and pay attention to other additional safety tips.
According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, more than 100,000 ATV-related injuries occurred in 2011, with almost 30 percent involving children under the age of 16. Further information provided by the CPSC states that as of Dec. 31, 2012, the “CPSC staff received reports of 12,391 ATV-related fatalities occurring between 1982 and 2012. CPSC staff received reports of 353 ATV-related fatalities occurring in 2012 ...”
For more information, you may visit the websites www.ATVSafety.gov or www.cpsc.gov or call the CPSC hotline at (800) 638-2772.