For Immediate Release - May 25, 2012

Massachusetts Environmental Police Urge Safe Off-Highway Vehicle Use

Regulations Governing Off-Highway Vehicles

BOSTON – Friday, May 25, 2012 – With the onset of spring and Memorial Day approaching, the Massachusetts Environmental Police (MEP) are reminding off-highway vehicle owners and operators to use safety and obey the law when riding all-terrain vehicles and dirt bikes.

In 2011, there were 76 total recreation vehicle accidents and 4 fatalities. In 2010, there were 62 recreation vehicle accidents and six fatalities. In 2009, there were 50 accidents and two fatalities. Most fatal ATV accidents are caused by excessive speed or operator error.

“We ask all recreation vehicle operators to use common sense and obey all of the laws pertaining to off-highway vehicle operation,” said MEP Director Col. Aaron Gross. “When you’re out on your vehicles, safety first – wear a helmet and always operate at reasonable speeds.”

Under Massachusetts law:

  • No person between 10 and 14 years of age shall operate a recreation vehicle unless directly supervised by an adult (18 years old or older), while in preparation for, or while participating in, a sanctioned race, rally, or organized event which has been approved by a municipal permitting authority. If operating an all- terrain vehicle or a recreation utility vehicle, engine capacity must be equal to or less than 90 cubic centimeters.
  • No person under the age of 16½ shall operate a recreation vehicle across a public way unless directly supervised by an adult. The public way and the crossing must be marked and approved for recreation vehicle use.
  • No person between 14 and 16 years of age shall operate an all-terrain vehicle or a recreation utility vehicle with an engine capacity greater than 90 cubic centimeters. When operating such vehicles 90 cubic centimeters or less, persons between 14 and 16 years of age must be directly supervised by an adult.
  • Persons under 10 years of age may only operate an age/size appropriate dirt bike under direct adult supervision while in preparation for, or while participating in, a sanctioned event which has been approved by a municipal permitting authority. Preparation for such an event may only occur on private property.

Throughout the season, MEP will be offering mandatory safety courses. Operators under the age of 18 are required to take an approved safety course. Parents of operators under the age of 16 will be required to attend one mandatory safety course session. For information, contact the Boat & RV Safety Bureau at 508-564-4961 or www.mass.gov/dfwele/dle/boatrvsafe.htm.

MEP also wants to remind operators of these safety tips:

  • Never operate a snow or recreation vehicle under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Operating a snow or recreation vehicle under the influence can result in fines, driver’s license restrictions, suspensions and vehicle impoundment.
  • Operate at reasonable speeds.
  • Wear a safety helmet.
  • Operators are prohibited of operating within 150 feet of an occupied residence without permission of the owner.
  • It is prohibited to operate a recreation vehicle on an ocean beach or sand dune in a manner to destroy, damage or break down the beach or dune.
  • It is prohibited to operate in a manner to harass or chase wildlife or domestic animals.
  • Report all off-highway vehicle accidents to the MEP at 800-632-8075.

The Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs’ Office of Law Enforcement – known also as the Massachusetts Environmental Police – is the primary agency responsible for enforcing the Commonwealth’s fish and game and boating and off-highway vehicle laws. MEP officers are empowered to enforce all general laws, focus on laws and regulations related to the protection of natural resources and public parks and land; boat and recreation vehicle use; and hazardous waste disposal. MEP officers serve as stewards of the state’s natural resources, patrolling forests, parks, inland waterways and coastal waters throughout the Commonwealth.

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