12/01/05 — Choose safety: Success of ATV law depends on parental cooperation

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Choose safety: Success of ATV law depends on parental cooperation

Today is the first day of the new all-terrain vehicle restrictions.

The idea is to make sure the vehicles are used properly and safely.

And its goal is to stop people from killing themselves — or allowing their children to take unnecessary risks that could change their lives forever.

And, on the surface, that is a worthwhile goal. Limiting the age of an ATV driver just might make a few people think twice before putting their much-too-young child in charge of a vehicle that could injure or kill them.

But the problem is that Wayne County Sheriff Carey Winders is right. There is no real way for his deputies to enforce the laws — unless a 5-year-old drives up to the sheriff’s department on an ATV.

The very nature of the vehicles themselves is that they are used in the country in out-of-the-way places. The only witnesses there are usually a few squirrels or a cow or two.

The real policemen for this sort of rule are the people who have the current ability to ignore it — parents and other adults who bring ATVs into their homes.

It is all about common sense and personal responsibility — two qualities that can be tough to find anywhere these days.

There would be no need for rules on personal choices such as whether to buy your child an ATV for Christmas if some people would think before they make these decisions.

The problem is that too many of them do exactly the opposite — and then we hear the tragic stories of the aftermath of those choices made based on a Christmas list rather than reality.

There are many people who think all these laws are limiting the freedoms that our ancestors fought so hard for more than 200 years ago. They do not think government or lawmakers should be telling anyone how to live their lives.

And, in principle, they are right.

But until there is a shift again — and people pay more attention to personal responsibility — a rule or two might be a good idea.

And this is one that needs to be enforced at home.

Published in Editorials on December 1, 2005 11:02 AM