Opinion Piece By The Times and Democrat
ISSUE: Chandler's Law
OUR VIEW: Without Sanford to veto bill, ATV regulations should get OK
State legislators last week advanced a bill putting age and safety restrictions on all-terrain vehicles. Without former Gov. Mark Sanford around to veto it a third time, the legislation, known as "Chandler's Law," has a good chance of passage this year.
As a state representative, Gov. Nikki Haley twice supported the bill. There's no reason for her not to continue supporting the proposed legislation, especially based on numbers provided by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.
Those numbers show that in South Carolina, 31 children younger than 17 died in ATV accidents from 1982 to 2008 and an estimated 450 children were injured yearly.
Chandler's Law was named for 16-year-old Chandler Saylor of Swansea, who died in an ATV accident after his parents dropped him off at a friend's birthday in 2003. His parents, Steven and Pam Saylor, have been pushing for ATV safety restrictions ever since.
Nationwide, 44 states have ATV safety laws. According to ATVsafety.gov, South Carolina has no laws pertaining to ATVs, with the exception of use restrictions related to state parks and forests.
The latest version of Chandler's Law would bar children younger than 9 from driving an ATV. It requires anyone under 16 to take a safety course and wear a helmet and eye protection. An ATV driver must also have a valid driver's license to carry a passenger.
A House panel voted unanimously last Tuesday to send the bill to the full Agriculture and Environmental Affairs Committee. Supporters are optimistic that Haley, who voted for the measure while in the House, won't veto the bill should it pass the Legislature.
Sanford said he vetoed the bill because it would impose more government into private lives and would interfere with people's private property rights by forcing them to take a class to ride an ATV in their own back yard. That's not the case, however, since the bill excludes private property, stating officers enforcing the law in regard to private land must have probable cause "based on plain-view observation or incident to an investigation resulting from an ATV accident" before they could enter the property.
Gov. Haley's primary concern must be preventing the deaths of other children like Chandler Saylor on ATVs.
The American Academy of Pediatrics in a release in 2000 stated, "Laws should prohibit the use of ATVs ... by children and adolescents younger than 16 years. An automobile driver's license, and preferably some additional certification in ATV use, should be required to operate an ATV. The safe use of ATVs requires the same or greater skill, judgment and experience as needed to operate an automobile."
And in a 2005 release, the AAP described child ATV use as "the perfect recipe for tragedy."
It's time for South Carolina to pass Chandler's Law.