A new law that's about to go on the books will allow the Florida Department of Agriculture to require better training for younger all terrain vehicle riders.
It's the result of the rising number of ATV accidents and deaths each year.
The new restrictions may keep those younger riders off public property. As the popularity of ATVs grow, so do the number of crashes. In 2006 there were more than 555 fatal accidents involving ATVs. One happened in our area.
Jackson County resident Doreen Brett says many of these accidents involve people under the age of 16.
"I actually know of children who were allowed to drive them and got hurt on them," she said.
The Department of Agriculture will soon be enforcing a new state law that will require anyone under 16 to successfully complete an ATV safety course. Once they've passed, they'll receive a certificate allowing them to operate the off-highway vehicles on public land.
"I feel that they should be regulated because children can use them in a way where they think they can handle them when they in actuality cannot. People mistake them as being a very passive vehicle and they can be very dangerous and it's very easy to loose control of them," Brett added.
The law will only affect property owned by the state, counties, and cities, but still many say it's unnecessary. Others blame the rise in ATV wrecks on drivers not using common sense.
Jackson County resident Frank Franklin they argue a certificate won't make people use their heads.
"I have kids and I think it's crazy for them to have a driver license to ride on dirt roads and back yards," he said.
The ATV dealers we spoke to say the law certainly couldn't hurt their business.
"I think people are going to buy them. Most of the people buy them for hunting, so I don't think it's going to affect the business at all."
The new law will take effect July 1. Only time will tell if this new educational program will make a difference in the number of crashes and deaths attributed to ATVs. To find out more about the certification and safety classes, go to www.floridaohv.org.