Kentucky Leads in ATV Fatalities

By: Ashley Davidson
By: Ashley Davidson

A state legislator is proposing a bill that would change laws for all terrain vehicles as reports show Kentucky tops the list for fatalities in ATV accidents. Now Thomas Burch, of Louisville, is proposing that everyone operating an all-terrain vehicle wear protective headgear.

The bill would require that no person under the age of 16 years shall operate an all-terrain vehicle. The bill would also provide community services for a first offense and a $100 fine for each subsequent offense.

The Tharpe family lost their daughter in April and say they think there should be tougher laws for ATV's. The family wanted to get the word out about the importance of ATV safety. Representatives at an area dealership also say that's key in lowering the fatality rates in Kentucky.

David Tharpe says: "My own personal feeling is there's been very little done as far as a safety factor as far as laws. I'm in the insurance business. I've seen many accidents on them. I've seen fatalities on them."

But knowing that didn't prepare David and Betsy Tharpe for the ATV death of their daughter, Emily Cates. Betsy says she worried about her using them and she says Emily had doubts about their safety too.

Betsy Tharpe says: "There were many times she would say I don't know if we need these things. But they were convenient for them."

Emily was killed on April 23rd of this year when the ATV she was operating nosedived and threw her off. She was a mother of three and a skilled ATV driver. The day of the accident her husband got rid of the ATV she was riding on as well as the family's other four wheelers.

At Mike's Cycle World, office manager Terri Spillman says she is in favor of tougher laws for ATV operators, but she says unsure how it would be enforced.

Spillman says: "We won't sell to under 16. And they shouldn't be riding them. But you know that happens. There's a lot of things people shouldn't do and they do it anyway. And we have no control over that."

Emily's parents believe if more people understood how powerful ATV's are and what a danger they can be it could help other families from a tragedy like theirs.

Betsy says: "She always looked for the best in a person or a situation and we've told ourselves many times since the accident that she would have said "You've grieved, now move on and do something for somebody else". And maybe talking abut ATV's may be a way we can help someone else."

Emily Cates husband says he is not for the new legislation because he doesn't think it will help.

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