I don't have a ton of ATV-riding experience, but the few times I have done it were super fun! Whipping around through the woods with the wind blowing through your hair sure beats walking, and it's a great way to see the scenery. But as is the case with most thrill-seeking sports, it does pose the threat of injury, especially if you are a speed demon or don't like wearing a helmet.

Last year, the lead singer of Old Dominion, Matthew Ramsey, got into a really bad ATV accident and fractured his pelvis. The band had to postpone some shows, including the one I was supposed to catch in Bangor, Maine!

The leading cause of ATV injuries is the lack of knowledge of how to operate the vehicle in different types of rough terrain. This can lead to collisions and rollovers.

New Hampshire is pretty liberal with some of its safety laws. For example, we are the only state that doesn't enforce a seatbelt law for drivers and passengers 18 years old or older. Also, motorcyclists are not legally obligated to wear a helmet in the Granite State. So it's not totally surprising that we have no minimum age for children to drive ATVs.

According to citizenscount.orgNew Hampshire law does not set any minimum age for driving or riding four-wheelers on state trails and private property. Even children 12 years old and older can drive ATVs on approved public roads without a license, as long as they have taken a safety course and have an adult present with them.

Dad with son riding a quad bike
Getty Images/iStockphoto

Anyone over the age of 14 doesn't need an adult present, but they must have a safety certificate or the appropriate licensing. And once you're over the age of 18, you can stop wearing your seatbelt if you want. Why would you do that? Don't ask me. Seems pretty reckless.

teen on ATV quad - four wheeler going down sandstone hills
Getty Images/iStockphoto

ATV accidents are no joke. They often cause head trauma and spine injuries, and these injuries can do lasting damage to developing bodies. Young operators may also lack the maturity to operate a motorized vehicle. Along with protecting our state's youth, an age limit could also be beneficial in reducing the strain on enforcement agencies, specifically New Hampshire Fish and Game.

I think it might be time to re examine the laws we have in place around ATV-ing in New Hampshire, but perhaps I am in the minority. I'd be curious to hear from people who ride ATVs on the regular. Do you think the laws we have in place are fair?

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