According to KBZK.com, a 9-year-old boy died in an ATV crash near Boulder. The cause of death was severe head injuries. The Montana Highway Patrol (MHP) said the boy was driving an ATV when he slowly veered to the right side of the road, he abruptly overcorrected and rolled the ATV onto its side, ejecting him. Sgt. Dave Oliverson said that the boy was not wearing a seatbelt or helmet. In the article, Oliverson points out that ATVs and other side-by-side vehicles can be operated only by those with a license, and a helmet and seatbelt have to be used.
We express our sincere condolences to the family of the 9-year-old boy. We work with clients every day who have lost someone dear to them in an accident. This incident brings some interesting questions to the fore concerning ATV vehicles and how they are treated in a court of law. For example, what rules has Montana passed regarding ATVs? Can anyone ride an ATV? Also, are ATVs treated similarly to cars? These are all critical questions to consider if you own or are considering purchasing an ATV.
Like any road vehicle, ATVs are subject to specific laws and restrictions. All vehicles other than regular cars (including snowmobiles, ATVs, trailers, and others) must be formally registered and titled with the Montana Motor Vehicle Division. A kid aged 11 to 16 also must wear a helmet when riding an ATV. An ATV is technically known as an off-highway vehicle. The Montana State Code outlines both what an off-highway vehicle is and where it is allowed to travel. For example, an off-highway vehicle is permitted on the roadway or shoulder of a public road or highway under certain designated conditions. Similarly, off-highway vehicles are subject to enforcement by both the department of fish, wildlife, and parks, park rangers, sheriffs, and the Montana highway patrol. Those who do not comply with these laws will be punished by fines and misdemeanors.
Various measures can help those riding ATVs be safer when riding. For example, the State Parks Department offers both an online safety course, as well as a hands-on safety course. The State Parks website also provides an array of suggestions to help riders be safer. For example, they offer a pre-ride checklist including items like:
- Inform someone of where you are going and when you expect to return. Do not ride by yourself.
- Check your ATV before riding. Ensure nothing is leaking and that nothing is broken.
- Carry a few basic tools and survival items with you. These items need to include water.
- Plan your route ahead of time.
- Always wear a helmet and other appropriate gear such as boots, gloves, and eye protection.
- Drive sober
- Be mentally alert and prepared to ride.
These are just a few simple things you can implement into your riding that can help you be a better, more safe rider. Obviously, each accident is different, and there are no guarantees all of these will keep you 100 percent safe. However, every appropriate measure should be taken to ensure your safety. As always, if you have been involved in an accident, contact The Advocates Law Firm. We will know if you have a viable case.