With a couple of recent tragedies so fresh in the minds of many Mid-Ohio Valley residents, it is worth asking Mountwood Park board members what safety protocols will be in place at a planned 605-acre all-terrain vehicle park on the north side of U.S. 50.
Mountwood Park Board President Bob Buchanan said creation of the park is expected to reduce illegal ATV use in Wood and surrounding counties. But ATV riding in improper locations is only part of the safety problem for these machines.
Mountwood Park ATV Adventures is the group responsible for creating and maintaining the trails, as well as collecting fees and providing insurance for the area, according to Buchanan. Let us hope they add one more duty to that list – instituting the most stringent safety requirements possible, and setting up a system for monitoring compliance with those policies. Having a good insurance plan is not enough.
As Buchanan mentioned, visitors to the ATV park will likely spend nights and eat locally, providing a nice economic injection to the area. But all the money in the world will not make up for the serious injury or loss of life that is possible if ATV riders do not have safety at the front of their minds.
According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, there were 14 ATV-related deaths in this country just between April 22 and May 5 of this year. There is considerable risk involved in operating these vehicles – exponentially so, when safety is ignored.
Park board members are to be commended for their effort to improve their facilities and add value to the attraction. So long as they are prepared to do the utmost to ensure safety of ATV riders and bystanders, the new trails should be a wonderful addition.