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New Law Eases ATV Helmet & Safety Rules on Private Property

By Sara Wood

http://stream.publicbroadcasting.net/production/mp3/whqr/local-whqr-989619.mp3

Wilmington, NC – A new law that went into effect on October 1 has relaxed helmet and safety gear laws for ATV operators. WHQR's Sara Wood reports that riders over the age of 18 are no longer required to wear a helmet or other protective gear when riding on private property.

According to the New Hanover Regional Medical Center, there are between 50 and 75 riders each year who sustain ATV-related injuries severe enough to be admitted to the hospital.

"We usually see our accidents in patients who are riding off-road. We see accidents when folks are kind of horse-playing or kidding around and get in front of the ATV or if they're riding a passenger on the ATV, we do see injuries from those folks too."

Christy Spivey is director of Emergency Department and Trauma Services at New Hanover Regional Medical Center. She says severe ATV injuries can include the lungs, ribs and head and on average the minimal cost for admitting a patient to the hospital with multiple ATV injuries is $25,000.

"The patients that we already see are patients that are riding in a rural setting, they're probably on their own private property or in a secluded area where they're probably not going to be monitored. So I'm disappointed that that went into effect and I anticipate that we'll continue to see patients who aren't wearing helmets and who have severe head injuries and facial injuries because of that."

Spivey says statistically more males are admitted to the hospital with ATV injuries than women.

Do you have insight or expertise on this topic? If so, we'd like to hear from you. Please email the WHQR News Team.