Off-road and All-Terrain Vehicle Accident Attorneys Mercer County NJ
Anyone who is a driver in New Jersey knows that there are many risks to taking to the road.
In a high population, a small state with many urban centers, drivers pose a greater risk of getting in a motor vehicle accident. Drivers who head off into the New Jersey back-country on all-terrain vehicles, also known as “ATVs,” think that their risks are largely depleted because they’re in ample wilderness. However, there are still many risks to take into account and prevent against. Additionally, it’s important to know how the state handles automobile insurance for all-terrain vehicles, so you make sure you are properly covered in the case of an accident, including one that causes injury.
In late July 2020, two ATV operators driving in Sussex County were airlifted to a hospital with serious injuries sustained in an ATV accident, according to Alejandro Goez, spokesperson for the New Jersey State Police.
What makes an ATV so endearing – and dangerous?
All-terrain vehicles are growing in popularity for several reasons. First of all, given the hustle of today’s economic climate, riders find that escapes into nature are necessary for their own mental health and work-life balance. Also, the age requirement for operating an ATV is younger than operating a vehicle on New Jersey motorways, so younger riders get the chance to practice their maneuvering skills. Finally, riders are not required to have a driver’s license to operate an ATV, so a whole scope of drivers opens up in the backcountry. This, as you can imagine, is both helpful for those who don’t have a license and dangerous, not only because they may not have the proper training to operate a vehicle, but also because the terrain is uneven and prone to shapeshifting under tires, putting inexperienced drivers, and even experienced ones, at risk.
New Jersey Requirements for Operating an ATV
The New Jersey Motor Vehicles Commission does not have a specific permit or license for all-terrain vehicles, and the state does not require that drivers be licensed to operate an ATV. However, according to New Jersey law, drivers must meet the following requirements:
- ATVs are permitted only off-road and are not permitted on New Jersey public roadways.
- Drivers must be at least 14 years old to operate an ATV.
- Drivers must have liability insurance to operate an ATV and carry it on their person while they ride.
- Drivers under 18 must complete an all-terrain vehicle safety program certified by the State of New Jersey.
- Drivers under 16 may only operate all-terrain vehicles with an engine capacity equaling or less than 90 cubic centimeters.
- ATVs may be sold only to people at least 16 years of age.
Common Causes of ATV Accidents
There is a myriad of ways that an all-terrain vehicle driver can become involved in a motor accident. Below are some of the common causes of ATV accidents, which must be kept in mind as operating a vehicle to help prevent an accident and potential injury.
- Dangerous roadways – While nature, and therefore some of the fun of off-roading, is done on wild terrain, this creates a prominent danger for drivers. Courses are often uneven and rocky, creating instability. Additionally, the elements cause changes to the courses that may throw off even experienced drivers – mudslides and pockets, downed trees, and other weather-related impacts on back roadways require additional caution.
- Inexperience – One of the primary causes of accidents on ATVs is the operation of a vehicle through testy terrain by an inexperienced driver. Because there is more to keep in mind than driving laws and road signs, an inexperienced driver can enter into much danger on an ATV. The main inexperience is a driver not knowing how different grounds will respond under the tires of an ATV or how an ATV will navigate those grounds. Counter-maneuvers that bring balance and stability are part of the training for young riders, but only cautious experience in those situations provides true support for a driver. Additionally, an inexperienced driver – or even an experienced one – may choose the wrong size ATV. This poses a danger because the driver may not fully control the vehicle if it is the wrong size.
- Driving under the influence – Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs is dangerous for anyone on any road. A driver puts themself at risk at a particularly high rate when offroading while under the influence because perception is altered, and the body has a looser hold over the vehicle, which may cause a person to lose control of the vehicle or be ejected from it when it strikes a hard or shifty force beneath.
Contact the NJ & PA Accident Lawyers at CR for Assistance
At Cohen & Riechelson, our skilled team of attorneys supports clients in Mercer County, NJ, including Trenton, Princeton, and Ewing, in all motor vehicle accident claims, including all-terrain vehicle accidents.