Simply put, ATVs are dangerous and drivers should exercise extreme caution when operating these vehicles.
Just last week, on July 24, 2013, 34-year-old Jason R. Holbert, of Ironton, Missouri, tragically lost his life when he was thrown from an ATV. According to the Missouri State Highway Patrol, the ATV’s driver, Benjamin Mounce, of Farmington, Missouri, lost control of the ATV and struck a utility pole causing it to overturn. Furthermore, Ben Mounce was arrested and now faces charges of manslaughter and driving while intoxicated.
While his action were not intentional and the outcome of the criminal charges remain uncertain, the driver is likely civilly liable for negligently causing the wrongful death of his passenger.
The Missouri State Highway Patrol published an ATV safety pamphlet containing the following:
No person shall operate an ATV:
· in a careless way so as to endanger the person property of another;
· while under the influence of alcohol or any controlled substance;
· without a securely fastened safety helmet, unless at least age 18 (the Patrol recommends that everyone, regardless of age, wear protective headgear);
· with a passenger, except for agricultural purposes.
Every person legally operating or driving an ATV upon the highways of Missouri shall observe and comply with the rules of the road.
Drivers must exercise caution when operating motor vehicles and ATVs are no exception to this important safety rule. The driver likely violated three of the above safety rules and each violation likely contributed to cause the wrongful death of his passenger.
The events of that day were horribly tragic for all parties involved. That being said, we must learn from it and stress the importance of vehicle safety and operator responsibility. Remember, just because it’s legal for an adult to ride an ATV without a helmet doesn’t mean it’s smart.
Ride safe. Ride smart.