Law Enforcement Urges Caution When Operating ATVs

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NEAR EDINBURG – Two separate ATV crashes over the weekend claimed the lives of two children. One of the children was a 7-year-old girl; the other a 4-year-old child.

On Monday, CHANNEL 5 NEWS visited the 5400 block of Lorena Street, north of Edinburg.

Maria Azucena Martinez lives down the road from where the 7-year-old was severally injured.

"I felt terrible, even though they were not my kids. I felt ugly, real ugly," said Azucena Martinez. "We've never had an accident like this happen in this colonia and it happened."

Martinez tells us it's not uncommon to see ATVs on the roads near her home.

Department of Public Safety Spokesperson Lt. Johnny Hernandez says the vehicles don't belong on there.

"We do have laws on the books where it says the off-road vehicle – it's an off-road vehicle – that means it's not supposed to be on a public roadway," he said. 

He says there are few exceptions to the rule, including a rider crossing the street with the vehicle. According to the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles, farmers or ranchers traveling no more than 25 miles per hour, public utility workers and law enforcement are also exempt.

"It's very important that also the parents supervise their children especially under the age of 14 years of age," said Hernandez.

According to Sec. 663.032 Texas Transportation Code:

"A person younger than 14 years of age who is operating an off-highway vehicle must be accompanied by and be under the direct supervision of:

(1) the person's parent or guardian; or

(2) an adult who is authorized by the person's parent or guardian."

Hernandez encourages anyone who sees someone riding ATVs on roadways in their neighborhood to call law enforcement.

"We want to reduce injuries and fatalities that occur, so we want to make sure that doesn't happen again," said Hernandez.

Hernandez adds adults and children alike should receive hands-on safety training.

He advises occupants should also wear helmets and goggles while riding these vehicles.

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