South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley has signed into law all-terrain vehicle safety legislation advocated by the Specialty Vehicle Institute of America (SVIA). H 3562, the All-Terrain Vehicle Safety Act, known as ‘Chandler’s Law,’ will take effect July 1, 2011.

SVIA has been working for many years in South Carolina to advocate the passage of comprehensive ATV safety legislation. Earlier this year, SVIA staff testified in support of the pending legislation at a Senate committee hearing.

“We’re extremely pleased the South Carolina legislature and the governor took this positive step to regulate the use of ATVs, particularly for young operators,” says SVIA Senior Vice President of Government Relations Kathy Van Kleeck. “We are especially appreciative of the efforts of the sponsors of the legislation, Representative Ott and Senator Hutto, for their steadfast support of ATV safety and their perseverance in steering the measure through the legislative process.

 “We also would like to recognize Chandler’s parents who were tireless advocates for ATV safety legislation.  Chandler’s Law is named for a 16-year old who was fatally injured while riding an ATV.”

According to the SVIA, research has shown that the vast majority of ATV crashes result from inappropriate use of the product. Ninety-two percent of ATV-related fatalities involve behaviors the industry warns against in its rider education programs, in all literature and on vehicle labels. These behaviors include riding inappropriately sized ATVs, operating on paved roads, operating without proper safety gear, and operating under the influence of alcohol. To address these “warned against behaviors” and other important ATV safety measures, SVIA has developed Model State ATV Legislation that has served as the basis for many existing state ATV safety laws.

Prior to passage of H 3562, South Carolina was one of only five states that had no laws relating to ATVs. Many bills have been introduced in South Carolina over the past decade, and in both 2006 and 2007 the legislature passed ATV safety bills, only to have them vetoed by then-Governor Mark Sanford.

South Carolina’s new ATV safety law includes many of the key provisions contained in SVIA’s Model Legislation, namely rider training, helmet and eye protection and parental supervision requirements for youth riders, and prohibitions on children riding adult-size ATVs and on ATV operation while under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

Provisions of the new law include:* Prohibits a parent or legal guardian knowingly permitting: 1) a child under age 6 to operate an ATV; 2) a child without a driver’s license and under age 16 to carry a passenger while operating an ATV; 3) a child under age 16 to operate an ATV in violation of the Age Restriction Warning Label affixed by the manufacturer.

* Requires ATV operators under age 16 to possess a safety certificate indicating successful completion of a ‘hands-on’ all-terrain vehicle safety course approved by the ATV Safety Institute (ASI).

* Requires every ATV operator and passenger 15 years of age or younger to wear eye protection and a DOT-compliant helmet.

* When operating an ATV on land open to the public:   – Requires ATV operators age 16 or younger to be accompanied by an adult.   – Prohibits ATV operation between one-half hour after sunset to one-half hour before sunrise unless headlights are on.   – Prohibits crossing any watercourse on an ATV except at a designated ford, crossing, bridge, or if the watercourse is bisected by a trail.   – Requires ATVs to have an effective muffler system, a USDA Forest Service approved spark arrester, and a brake system all in good operating condition.   – Prohibits ATV operation while under the influence of alcohol or any controlled substance.      – Prohibits ATV operation in a reckless manner.

* The new law does not apply to:   – An owner, operator, or renter of a farm or ranch, or that person’s employees, immediate family, or household members, operating an ATV while engaged in farming, wildlife habitat management, or ranching operations;   – A person using an ATV for hunting or trapping purposes if otherwise lawfully engaged in those activities; or   – A minor under age 16, but not younger than age 6 who is operating an ATV under the direct visual supervision of his parent or legal custodian on private property.

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