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Sheriff issues warning about ATV hazards

POSTED: May 8, 2018 1:16 p.m.

Riding ATV's is a fun outdoor past time, However, many people are losing their lives doing it.

In fact, the latest U.S. figures for 2017 indicate that ATV accidents kill more than 300 people every year and, of those, 191 are on-road accidents.

Effingham County Sheriff Jimmy McDuffie said, "If you are riding your ATV on the road, you are breaking the law."

State law gives the county the right to regulate periods and establish zones of use:

O.C.G.A. 40-7-5.  (a) Incorporated towns and municipalities and counties shall have the authority to adopt ordinances consistent with state laws or regulations to regulate time periods and zones of use for off-road vehicles.  (b) Agencies of state government shall have the authority to adopt rules and regulations to regulate time periods and zones for use for off-road vehicles on property under their jurisdiction or management. Effingham County Ordinance 74-7 (2) Any person operating an off-road vehicle under any of the following conditions shall be deemed to be in violation of this section and shall be punishable as provided by section 1-19 of this Code: (2) On any public property, including, but not limited to, any road or right-of-way under the possession or control of Effingham County, except property designated by the board of commissioners for use by offroad vehicles;

The Consumer Federation of America says it's a dangerous trend. It reports that almost two-thirds of all deaths are happening on public or private roads despite industry and manufacturer warnings not to ride on them.

Since March, the sheriff's office has received 46 calls about people riding their ATVs on roadways.

The only place you can ride an ATV legally in Effingham County is on your property or the property of another with written permission (in your possession or readily accessible).

The “roadway” or “right-of-way” is different on every road and can vary in size.

Consider “power pole to power pole as a good marker, so the ditches and shoulders are also illegal to ride on.

One last thing to keep in mind is you may not legally operate any vehicle on a public roadway while intoxicated; this includes ATVs, golf carts, bicycles, lawnmowers, tractors or even a horse.

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