No ATV helmet could soon be a problem

By Darrell Crenshaw
TheStatehouseFile.com

INDIANAPOLIS — Underage ATV riders might want to start looking up the prices of helmets to wear.

The governor will soon consider whether to sign House Bill 1200 into law. The legislation would require off-road vehicle drivers and passengers younger than 18 years old to wear helmets.

Rep. Lloyd Arnold, R-Leavenworth, discusses HB 1200 in front of the House Tuesday morning. Photo by Darrell Crenshaw, TheStatehouseFile.com

“The Senate did make some changes that I feel very good with,” said Rep. Lloyd Arnold, R-Leavenworth, told the House before a final vote Tuesday.

The Senate added that the owner of an off-road vehicle is prohibited from allowing underage riders without a helmet. Offenders could face a fine up to $500.

“This actually mirrors what we currently do for boat safety,” Arnold added. Boating laws also hold the adult responsible for underage violators.

Arnold decided to author the bill after learning about the death of 11-year-old Kate Bruggenschmidt. She died of a head injury in 2015 after the ATV she was driving in Spencer County flipped and trapped her underneath.

According to Indiana’s Department of Natural Resources, ATV fatalities are on the rise. In 2016, there were 21 deaths from off-road vehicles accidents. That is 16 more than the previous year, and an increase of 13 from 2014.

Currently, state parks and facilities require all ATV riders, regardless of age, to wear a helmet while operating the vehicle. However, that requirement doesn’t extend to riders on private property. If this bill becomes law, it would require those under the age of 18 to wear helmet while on an ATV regardless of the location.

The bill passed with a 67-23 vote in the House. Rep. Jim Lucas, R-Seymour, voted against the bill, saying he doesn’t want to criminalize parents who don’t force their kids to wear helmets.

 “I like riding motorcycles without a helmet. That should be my choice and not the government coming in and telling us how to enjoy our lives,” he said.

The bill now moves to the governor for his decision to make the bill a law or not.

Darrell Crenshaw is a reporter for TheStatehouseFile.com, a news website powered by Franklin College journalism students.

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