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Long County cracking down on 4-wheelers
mr ATV
A Long County teen wears a helmet as she rides a 4-wheeler in the Rye Patch Community. - photo by Photo by Mike Riddle
Three young people have lost their lives during the past three years in Long County as a result of wrecks on all-terrain vehicles.
The most recent crash took place just a few weeks ago when a 15-year-old boy lost control of his ATV while jumping over a natural ramp along  Rye Patch Road.
Long County is known for it’s hunting clubs and wooded areas. It also is known to have an abundance of these vehicles.
“We are going to have to get more strict on people riding these 4-wheelers. If they are breaking the law, we’re going to cite them,” Long County Sheriff Cecil Nobles said.
According to Long County Deputy Robert Berry, the laws for operating a 4-wheeler or ATV are stricter than is generally believed.
“Most people who are operating a 4-wheeler are doing so illegally, and don’t even know it,” he said. “In Georgia, to operate one, you have to be a licensed driver, wear a helmet, have braking signals, lights, and there are even tire specifications; and its against the law to operate them in any roadway.”
Ludowici/Long County Fire Chief Darrell Ballance responded to all three of the fatal calls and he agrees something has to be done.
“We have the laws on the books, but law enforcement has got to enforce them. These kids are flying up and down these roads, and something has got to be done to stop them. We are having too many get hurt, and three have died,” Ballance said.
Nobles and Ballance agreed parents have to take more responsibility.
“A parent wouldn’t give their 12 or 13-year-old a loaded .357 (pistol), but they buy them a vehicle that will go 50-60 miles an hour, and let them cut loose without so much as a helmet. The parents have got to be aware of where their kids are, when they are riding,” Ballance said.
The sheriff agreed, saying, “Parents have got to take a major part of the responsibility with this problem, especially when it comes to making them wear helmets.”
The city of Ludowici approved an ordinance in June 2006 pertaining to operating 4-wheelers in the city limits, and according to Ludowici Police Chief Frank McClelland, it has nearly eliminated ATV riding in the city limits.
“It has made a tremendous difference. We had to have a couple of them towed away and citations given out, but you don’t see them much any more,” McClelland said.
He noted, “The parents have been a big help too, and have been real supportive. It has to be a joint effort between the parents and law enforcement.”
LPD Investigator Richard Robertson police are monitoring the problem by keeping track of the citations.
“If we see someone violating the ordinance, we usually give them a warning citation first, and it is put in a permanent file at the office,” he said. “Then, if they are caught a second time, they are given a formal citation, the vehicle is impounded and they have to appear in court.”
Although the problem within the city limits has dramatically improved, a majority of the 4-wheelers and ATV’s are in the county.
“We have a lot area to cover, and our manpower is limited, we are going to do everything we can to start cracking down on these riders who are breaking the law, but we can’t do it alone,” Nobles said. “We need the help of the parents to keep these kids off these roadways and especially to make sure they are wearing a helmet.”
Anyone wanting more information about laws pertaining to ATVs may contact the sheriff’s and police departments.
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