An eight-year effort to better protect children from dying in all terrain vehicle crashes took a step forward Tuesday, but concerns surfaced about whether the legislative plan is strong enough.
In approving a bill that requires youth training and limits the use of all terrain vehicles by children, the House agriculture committee voted to water down the measure enough that some lawmakers questioned how effective the bill would be if it passes the Legislature.
The amended bill allows children as young as six years old to drive some types of ATVs. The original bill banned children nine years and younger from driving the off road vehicles. The bill also now adds an exemption that allows young children to continue driving the vehicles if they are hunting.
Lawmakers have considered restrictions on the use of ATVs by teenagers and young children after a teen died in 2003 in a crash while attending a birthday party. Over the years, various version of the legislation have died, either in the Legislature or by a governors veto. South Carolina is one of only six states with no restrictions on use of ATVs by children.
The Consumer Product Safety Commission estimates that 450 children are injured in all terrain vehicle accidents annually in South Carolina, according a March 1 letter to Rep. Paul Agnew from the Childrens Trust of South Carolina.