The Massachusetts Senate has voted to expand regulations for operators of ATVs in the state.

This bill, which will soon go to the House of Representatives, would require all ATVs and snowmobiles to be registered by September 1, 2008. The bill will also see strict age requirements enforced.

“It is our obligation to make sure that unlawful use of snowmobiles and recreation vehicles is not a threat to public safety,” Massachusetts Senate president Therese Murray told Wicked Local. “This bill will lessen unlawful ATV practices that harm our children and unnecessarily damage our environment.”

Four children under the age of 16 have been admitted to Massachusetts hospitals in the past two weeks due to ATV accidents.

An Off-Highway Vehicle Working Group was created by the Massachusetts Department of Conservation 2007. This group’s goal is to find solutions to address illegal and unsafe use of ATVs and other recreational vehicles. According to Wicked Local, a good portion of this bill stems from their work.

This bill would require owners of ATVs who allow children under the age of 18 to use their vehicle to be held accountable for any damage or injuries.

Other provisions of the bill

Use of ATVs is banned by anyone under the age of 14 and limits the engine size of ATVs for children between the ages of 14 and 16.

Owners of ATVs under the age of 18 must successfully complete a recreation vehicle safety and responsibility course before operating their vehicle.

New categories of violations will be created and penalties for existing violations will be strengthened.

Helmets will be required for all operators of an ATV.

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