I got a bit of a debate going on Twitter this morning when I reacted to this tragic news:
HENDERSONVILLE, SC (AP) – A 12-year-old girl has died after a wreck on an all-terrain vehicle in Colleton County.
The Post and Courier of Charleston reported rescue crews were called to a home near Hendersonville shortly after 1:30 p.m. Monday.
Colleton County Fire and Rescue Director Barry McRoy says witnesses said some children at a birthday party were driving two all-terrain vehicles in the woods behind the house when 1 of the vehicles rolled over.
The girl was treated by paramedics and was flown to the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston where she died. Her name has not been released…
My reaction was simple, and straightforward: “Why is this legal?”
My rhetorical question was quickly reTweeted by two or three users, with Tyler Jones adding an answer: “Rednecks in the Gen Assembly.”
Palmetto Record added this elaboration, “The under-16 helmet law was signed earlier this year — should kids now be banned from ATVs altogether?”
To which my answer is, yes.
But the libertarian view was represented, as it always is. This time, my friend Bryan Cox played the Mark Sanford role, saying, “I’ll bet more kids die riding in cars than driving ATVs. Ban those too? Risk is inherent to freedom.”
For me, that was easy to answer. Riding in cars is an unavoidable risk, in a society that lacks adequate public transit. Riding an ATV is absolutely unnecessary. Big difference.
Bryan elaborated on his point by saying:
If govt should ban those under 18 from activities deemed an unnecessary risk — why not skiing, swimming, football as well?
My reply? I merely expressed my weariness with the “We shouldn’t do A unless we also do B” argument, which is always presented as a way of preventing us from doing A, never as a way of advocating that we do B. In fact, B is generally deliberately chosen for its utter lack of political viability.
Bryan added, “The judgment ATV riding isn’t of value, but football is = opinion. Govt making those arbitrary content calls isn’t freedom.”
No one can ever accuse me of valuing football. But I also know there is little point in trying to ban football, in this society. There is a chance of banning ATV riding by minors. So we should do it, and at least save the lives we can.
That’s because that’s what government is — communities deciding for themselves what they will countenance and what they will not. It’s not some entity out there imposing something. It’s us. And I know my neighbors. They won’t even consider banning football. So I’ll say it again: Let’s save the lives we can.
So you would ban football if it was feasible within our community to do so?
ATV deaths are pretty rare but never-the-less a 12 year old has no business riding one.
I’ll bet no parent encourages a child to jump into deep water until the child has demonstrated the ability to swim well enough to be able to reach safety. Or given a kid on ski’s the chance to ski a black diamond trail until the child has demonstrated that he/she knows skiing skills well enough, and has sufficient judgement to avoid a tree (or other hazard). Likewise with football, children who show interest begin learning under controlled conditions with quite a few more restrictions that pro football calls for. Yet we continue to let kids go off road in these vehicles which can subject their bodies to far more force during a crash, and which are much heavier than say, a bicycle. There should be training courses and skill demonstration levels at the very least. The child in question probably had never had the opportunity to gain the experience necessary to determine safe speed or course over the terrain she was on.
There is precious little social utility in ATV riding by anyone. Ban it for everyone–that and jet skis. Harrumph
and leaf blowers….
Get offa my lawn….
It’s legal because it’s been found to be a case of cruel and unusual punishment for a 12 year old to actually propel a vehicle of any type without the use of a gasoline or electric motor. To become a fat adult, it’s best to start out as a fat kid.
ATVs are very heavy and powerful. Used improperly, negligently, or recklessly, they can be dangerous. But so can anything. It is tragic when any child dies (regardless of the circumstances). However, I do not blame the ATV, unless there was some sort of mechanical error, which I doubt. I blame the adults who let a 12 year old ride the ATV either unsupervised and/or without proper training.
The opinion that “Riding in an ATV is absolutely unnecessary” is irrelevant. (And I think you know that, Brad.)
I agree with Bryan Cox (and not just because we share such a great first name).
For me, it comes down to personal responsibility. If you decide that your child should not ride an ATV, then so be it. Just stop telling the rest of us what to do.
I saw a child that could not have been more than 7 on a very small motorized 4 wheel vehicle on a side street in my little town yesterday. He/she had come out from a street with a stop sign into the cross street I was on to turn around.
I was far enough away and the child was not in danger from me. I did not see any adult around. When you have parents who are this crazy, someone needs to step in.
That’s the thing, Bryan. If a parent thinks it’s a good idea for a child to ride an ATV, then maybe it’s time for someone else to step in, in loco parentis.
Figured I’d go ahead and say that, to REALLY set off my libertarian friends.
Hey, Kathryn gets is (“get offa my lawn”). Why doesn’t everybody get it?
What we’re talking about here is something that is a central tenet of the Grownup Party. I should know; I invented it…
1) This is merely Darwin at work. Let the unfit ones take themselves out of the gene pool early, I say. I won’t let my child ride one without a good deal of training and supervision.
2) You can/maim kill yourself on a bicycle pretty easily too. I’d say riding a bike on an SC road is about as dangerous as riding an ATV off the road, yet nobody is advocating banning precious snowflakes’ from using bicycles.
3) Good luck enforcing an under 18 ATV ban. People tend to ride them on private property in rural areas (at least that’s where I did when I was growing up.) Let’s spread our law enforcement resources JUST a bit thinner. I’d rather have them taking drunks off the road, or better still, stopping thieves and murderers.