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New off-road vehicle helmet law starts this weekend

SOUTH BEND, Ind. - 

A new law in Indiana kicks in this weekend, requiring anyone under the age of 18 to wear a helmet on all off-road vehicles. This pertains to both public and private property, and if kids do not comply, they could get a ticket.

Delane Richhart says he uses his four-wheeler for both work and recreation.

He says his grandchildren love to ride it.

“They come over and they want a ride, so grandpa takes them for a ride,” he said.

But he doesn’t let them drive until he has taught them how to ride properly.

“It’s just like a car, you have to train them and teach them what it can do,” said Richhart.

But a new law in Indiana law will require those kids to have more than training. They’ll also need a helmet.

Indiana Conservation Officer Jonathon Boyd says there are a lot of off-road vehicle accidents in St. Joseph County.

“St. Joseph County does see a lot of off-road vehicle use. And we have a constant, steady stream of off-road vehicle accidents.”

So officers are hoping this law will help those accidents be less severe.

“Indiana sees fatalities or near fatalities with minors that could be prevented by just wearing a helmet.”

But Richhart thinks, it’s going a little too far by including private property.

He says he thinks it’s the family that should decide what happens on their own land.

The safety of children is the parent’s responsibility. It concerns me a lot when the government steps in and tries to take away my responsibility as a parent,” said Richhart.

Ultimately, though, he agrees that this law will help to keep kids safe.

Which is what Boyd says it’s all about.  

“It’s going to help reduce those calls for us to responding to serious injury accidents on off road vehicles, and it’s going to save kid’s lives, which is what it’s all about,” said Boyd.

This applies to all off road vehicles with the exception of golf carts.

If the vehicle is being used for agricultural purposes, the law does not apply.

Boyd says the law will help, because these kinds of accidents happen all the time. And those accidents don’t just affect the parents.

“I don’t like getting those calls to the hospital where I hear another kid has been injured. Those are tough to hear, even when it’s not your kid. You’re just the responder. You show up and there’s a kid that was just trying to have a fun time and a parent who didn’t understand the dangers. I think this law is really going to help them out.”

The law starts on July 1. Boyd said officers will use discretion until people are used to the new law.

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