NEWBERRY — Last week, Brandon Michael Austin of Rhode Island died after an accident involving the all-terrain vehicle he was operating.
According to the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control, about one-third of all ATV related injuries involved children younger than 16. Austin was 13.
DHEC also states that six children will die from from ATV-related accidents in South Carolina this year, which is part of a larger national average.
“Age plays a big factor in accidents in the county, and that is usually because children are riding equipment they are not suppose to,” said Tommy Long, emergency service coordinator for Newberry County.
In 2011, an estimated 29,000 children went to emergency rooms due to ATV related accidents, with 57 resulting in death, according to atvsafety.gov.
The same website also states that South Carolina does not have any laws regulating the use of ATVs, but does say that ATVs cannot be operated on state park and forest lands, unless a trail has been designated as such.
What should ATV riders do to keep safe while operating one?
Newberry County Sheriff Lee Foster said he would like for all ATV users to wear their helmets and be aware of the power of the vehicles.
“I encourage all ATV operators, especially minors, to wear their helmets, and for parents to make sure their children, or children in their charge, know how to operate the vehicle and understand the sheer power of the vehicle,” said Foster.
The website www.cpsc.gov advises all ATV users to follow these tips:
• Do not drive ATVs on paved roads
• Do not allow a child under 16 to ride or drive an adult ATV
• Do not drive ATVs with passenger or ride as as passenger
• Always wear a helmet and other protective gear such as eye protection, boots, gloves, long pants and long-sleeved shirt
• Take a hands-on safety training course.