Whitesburg KY

ATV deaths, injuries on rise


Robert Parks says he’s learned his lesson following an all-terrain vehicle crash this past spring that left him with a broken collarbone and other injuries.

Parks has since sold his ATV and vows he won’t ride one again. His granddaughter and her friend were uninjured in the crash, but he received 16 stitches in his head and suffered a leg wound that required surgery.

“It’s a hell of a way to learn,” Parks said. “I put a lot of burden on my family.”

Parks, 51, is one of more than 260 people in Kentucky hurt this year through Nov. 1 while riding an ATV. The 2007 tally accounts for 26 more than in 2006.

There have been at least 30 ATV related deaths this year ¿î more than twice as many than what occurred five years ago and nine more than in 2006.

Kentucky has recently lead the country in the number of fatal ATV crashes.

An analysis by The Courier- Journal of Louisville found all Kentucky ATV drivers involved in fatal crashes this year ignored at least one safety guideline taught in training courses or printed on manufacturers’ warning labels. The mistakes include riding without a helmet, carrying passengers, driving on public roads or using alcohol or drugs.

Dr. Andrew Bernard, a University of Kentucky trauma surgeon, said many riders don’t appreciate that they can be killed or hurt if they don’t follow safety guidelines.

“It’s because the public doesn’t perceive the killing power of the machine,” Bernard said. “Appreciate the fact that the machine can hurt or kill you and do everything you can to keep it safe.”

Some of this year’s Kentucky wrecks resulted from obvious safety mistakes, the newspaper found.

For example, an 18-year-old man was killed in Rockcastle County while driving too fast on a public road and standing on the ATV. He fell, hit his head and was dragged 20 feet.

In Madison County, a 40- year-old man was killed after drinking a case of beer and driving his ATV into a parked van. A 14-year-old girl was killed in Daviess County after the driver lost control while driving in reverse trying to avoid a sheriff’s deputy.

The fatal wrecks all occurred in rural parts of the state. Victims’ ages ranged from 5 to 73.

A law the Kentucky General Assembly passed in 2006 required all ATV riders age 16 and under to wear a helmet. People older than age 16 must where a helmet when riding on public land.

Kentucky State Police Capt. Tim Lucas, who coordinates ATV safety courses, said education and enforcement of current laws are key to lowering the state’s accident rate.

“You can’t legalize responsibility, and ultimate that’s what riders have to assume is responsibility,” Lucas, a native of Jenkins, said. “You can’t legislate that.”

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