RIDGWAY – The coming of summer means an increase in the usage of all-terrain vehicles and, correspondingly, an increase in the illegal operation of these types of vehicles on roadways and on private property, according to Pennsylvania State Police Trooper Bruce Morris, public information officer.
In response to this growing problem, Ridgway-based state police have recently instituted a zero-tolerance policy regarding illegal ATV operation and have specifically target the areas of Kersey, Weedville/Force and Wilcox. Although all of Elk County is included in the program, locations for the most recent enforcement details were chosen due to a number of complaints received from the public regarding the illegal operation of ATVs on state roads and reckless ATV operation, speeding and other violations on ATV-approved roadways.
During the past 60 days, troopers from the Ridgway barracks, assisted by troopers from elsewhere in Troop C, have conducted traffic stops on approximately 20 ATVs. Each of the operators were issued traffic citations. One operator was arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, and one operator was arrested for attempting to flee or elude police.
Overall, single-vehicle ATV crashes, ATV crashes with other ATVs and ATV crashes with other vehicles have shown a steady increase in the frequency of occurrences, according to Tpr. Morris.
The purpose of the new enforcement program, he said, is to reduce the number of ATV crashes that result in injury or death and to educate the public about proper ATV operation.
To implement the operation, Ridgway-based state police have increased the number of patrols using marked and unmarked cars in the targeted areas. In addition, several new techniques are being used by troopers.
Unconventional unmarked vehicles are being used. These vehicles include pickup trucks, cars and minivans used to observe illegal ATV operation. Uniformed officers are then directed to perform traffic stops. Some details have included decoy riders on ATVs and troopers disguised as disabled motorists to observe and report illegal ATV activity. Troopers have also been assigned to wooded areas near ATV problem areas to gather information.
Ridgway-based state police are reminding ATV operators of some state laws that will help with riding safely and legally.
All ATVs must display a valid Department of Conservation and Natural Resources registration plate, and the operator must carry a valid registration certificate when operating the machine on property other than their own. All ATVs must be covered by liability insurance, and the operator must carry a valid liability insurance card if the machine is operated on property other than their own.
It is illegal to operate an ATV on any street, road or highway that is not designated and posted as an ATV road by a local municipality.
Crossing any roadway with an ATV must be done at a 90-degree angle.
It is illegal to operate an ATV on private property without the property owner’s consent.
No one under the age of 16 is allowed to drive an ATV on any street, road or highway. A person under the age of 16 is allowed to cross a roadway while under the supervision of someone who is over the age of 18 or if he or she has completed an ATV training course and has been awarded a certificate.
No one under the age of 10 is allowed to operate an ATV on state-owned land.
No one between the ages of 10 and 15 is allowed to operate an ATV on land owned by someone other than the rider’s parent or guardian unless the operator has obtained a valid ATV safety course certificate.
Multiple ATVs must be driven on a highway in a single-file line.
ATV operators must wear a helmet when driving on a highway that is open for ATV travel.