To send a pre-written email to Gov. Patrick, Click Here and scroll to the bottom. If you don't live in MA use this address: (it's his office)Massachusetts Set to Enact Youth ATV Riding Prohibition
Last week, under suspended rules, the Massachusetts House hastily pushed through a number of changes to the state's off-highway vehicle laws. In one day, a bill that had not been acted on in four months was reported from committee, read, amended, renamed and engrossed. The Senate had passed similar legislation earlier in the year.
Some elements of the legislation will likely benefit motorized recreation in Massachusetts. In fact the bill received support from some local OHV enthusiast organizations. However, the AMA remains opposed to this bill because of its extreme prohibition on youth ATV riding.
The "Act to Regulate the Use of Off-highway and Recreational Vehicles" would make it illegal for anyone under the age of 14 to operate an ATV or recreation utility vehicle. The legislation would also further restrict the recreational operation of ATVs by anyone under 16. While the legislation will allow for some participation in "organized events," the act will still make Massachusetts one of the most prohibitive states in the country for family motorized recreation.
This bill will deny hundreds of thousands of off-highway vehicle enthusiasts the right to participate in their preferred family recreation. Families should be free to decide what to do in their spare time and parents must have discretion over the type of recreation in which their children participate.
If the state is serious about addressing youth OHV safety it should have pursued a number of other tactics before resorting to prohibition.
Rider education is the best approach to the long-term reduction of off-highway vehicle related injuries and fatalities. Rider education promotes the use of safety equipment, safe riding and improves rider skill. And families can be trained together; for example, the Utah State Parks' youth training program requires that parents participate in their child's safety training.
Gov. Deval Patrick (D) has told the media that he is supportive of this legislation. Never the less, the AMA has written to the governor and asked him not to sign the overly restrictive youth-recreation prohibitions into law.
The legislation (currently numbered HB 4744 / SB 2257) is available on the StateWatch section of www.AmericanMotorcyclist.com.
A pre-written message that you can customize and send to the governor is also available.
Office of the Governor, Room 280
Boston, MA 02133