Mass. Senate Votes For ATV Helmet Law, Age Limitations

The Massachusetts Senate has voted to expand regulations for operators of ATVs in the state, requiring all ATVs and snow vehicles to be registered by Sept. 1, enforcing age requirements for their riders and creating an ATV helmet law.

"It is our obligation to make sure that unlawful use of snowmobiles and recreation vehicles is not a threat to public safety," Senate President Therese Murray (D-Plymouth) told Wicked Local. "This bill will lessen unlawful ATV practices that harm our children and unnecessarily damage our environment."

Last year the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation created an Off-Highway Vehicle Working Group to identify strategies and solutions to address the growing concerns regarding the illegal and unsafe use of snowmobiles and recreation vehicles. Much of this bill, which also creates a new state off-highway vehicle advisory committee to address ongoing concerns, stems from their work.

If it passes the House, the legislation requires that ATV owners be held accountable for any damage or injuries if they let minors use their vehicles. Further provisions of the bill include:

  • Bans the use of ATVs by anyone under the age of 14 and limits the engine size of ATVs for children between the ages of 14 and 16.

  • Owners of ATVs under the age of 18 must successfully complete a recreation vehicle safety and responsibility course before operating their vehicle.

  • Creates new categories of violations and strengthens the penalties for existing ones.

  • Requires the use of a helmet for all operators of an ATV.