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Why Michigan Has ORV Laws

Minimum ages for off-road vehicle (ORV) operation are the result of an extensive review by the Michigan Legislature. The hearing process caused everyone to focus on the alarming statistics regarding young riders.

ORV Accident Data

According to U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, of the 3,232 reported ATV-related fatalities of children younger than 16 years of age (from 1982 through 2016), 1,411 (approx. 44%) were younger than 12 years of age. Additionally, other young victims were left paralyzed, brain damaged, or with other serious permanent injuries. Most of the accidents involving young riders could be traced to a number of factors such as lack of supervision, machine design characteristics, and lack of training. Some parents appeared to be unaware of many of these hazards.

As accident data shows, the consequences of a few daring moments on an ORV can be devastating.

Preserving and enhancing public safety in the field of outdoor recreation are of paramount importance.

Recognizing that there are potential safety hazards in off-road vehicle riding, the Michigan Legislature has enacted regulations that directly affect:

  • Operation of ORVs by children under 16 years of age
  • Safety equipment that is required of all ORV operators and passengers
  • Strict controls on the use and possession of alcohol while operating ORVs
  • Unlawful operation on roads open to regular vehicle traffic

Responsibilities come with the ownership and operation of an ORV. Adults bear the burdens of passing on responsible conservation and outdoor ethics to young operators under their supervision and setting the example for all other ORV enthusiasts.

It is important to consider the potential impact of ORVs on Michigan's fragile environment, and to operate ORVs in a manner that minimizes conflicts with others who are enjoying the fields and forests of the state.

Michigan's conservation officers play an important role in ensuring that ORV recreational opportunities are available for safe and responsible users. They accomplish this through aggressive enforcement and a continued willingness to respond to public concerns. They are an important bridge between ORV users and the non-riding public. Use them and assist them to ensure the future of ORV recreation.