VALDOSTA, Ga. (WTXL) — The Valdosta Police Department acknowledged the dangers involved with operating off-road vehicles like an All-Terrain Vehicle (ATV), dirt bikes, go-carts on public roads, streets and sidewalks.
VPD noted that during the holiday season, many parents purchase off-road vehicles for younger individuals.
The police department asks that those operating off-road vehicles understand that off-road vehicles are not equipped to travel on roads or highways.
It is against Georgia law to operate an off-road vehicle on public roads, rights-of-way and sidewalks.
According to a 2021 ATV Fatalities Report completed by the Consumer Federation of America, Georgia is ranked seventh in ATV-related deaths (through September, 27, 2021) with 13.
In all ATV-related deaths in the U.S., 67% occurred on the roadway. Of those known, 35% of the riders were not wearing helmets. Children under age 16 had the highest fatality rate at 18.8%, followed by those from ages 30-39 and 20-29 with 15.5% and 14.2% respectively.
“As soon as an off-road vehicle begins to travel on the roadway, there is an increased concern for safety as well as it becomes a law enforcement issue. We do not want anyone to experience tragedy with illegal or unsafe riding of recreational vehicles,” Valdosta Police Lt. Sabrina W. Smith said in a news statement.
When riding on an off-road vehicle, VPD suggests citizens of the following safety precautions amid concerns regarding prohibited riding on the roadway and in residential areas:
- Riders should not be permitted to operate off-road vehicles without specialized training.
- Riders should only operate those vehicles that are size and age-appropriate.
- Safety equipment such as DOT-approved helmets, goggles, over the ankle boots, gloves, long pants, and long-sleeved shirts should be worn at all times.
- Riders should only ride on private property with permission, not on city streets, rights-of-way, or sidewalks.
Citizens are encouraged to report prohibited and reckless driving to the police so contact can be made with the riders if possible.