S.C. Gov. Sanford Vetoes ATV Safety Bill Again

May 18, 2007

For the second year in a row, Gov. Mark Sanford has vetoed a bill that supporters say would prevent S.C. children from getting injured while riding all-terrain vehicles.

Sanford said he vetoed the bill in part because it would grow government unnecessarily.

The measure, which requires children ages 6 to 15 to take a safety course and wear a helmet and goggles while operating an ATV, is named for Steven “Chandler” Saylor, a Swansea High sophomore who died after an ATV accident in May 2003. His parents have been pushing legislators to pass Chandler’s Law ever since.

“There is no justification on the face of the earth for vetoing a child safety and education bill,” his mother, Pamela Saylor, said Wednesday.

Saylor hopes this year lawmakers can get the votes to override Sanford’s veto.

“We promised him last year we would not go away, and we give him the same promise this year,” she told The Associated Press.

Sanford said while he admires the Saylors for honoring their son, he believes the measure would impinge on private property rights and diminish parental responsibility.

“While the course is useful and I would encourage riders to take it, we should not use the law to make parents think that their children will somehow know how to operate their ATV’s safely,” the Republican governor wrote in his veto message issued May 15. “Simply put, we don’t believe the government should be allowed to exercise this kind of power over citizens’ use of their own property on their own land.”

Sanford also criticized the safety course as a hidden tax on families who already own ATVs and said the measure would be difficult to enforce.

In a statement, Pamela Saylor said two children have died while riding an ATV since Sanford’s veto last year.

“It is the duty of our elected representatives to protect children too young to make adult decisions by regulating children’s use of a vehicle that weighs in excess of 300 lbs. and can reach speeds as fast as 60 mph,” she wrote.

The measure makes it illegal for parents to knowingly let children younger than 6 to operate an ATV. Children from ages 6 to 15 must be accompanied by an adult. Violators could be charged with a misdemeanor and fined between $50 and $200.

Barbara Parish, owner of TNT Motorsports Park in Chester, said she agrees with the governor’s veto.

“It places too much emphasis on businesses and the government to supervise children when parents should be supervising their children,” said Parish, a certified ATV safety instructor.

She said many children have been riding ATVs since they were 4 years old, and it doesn’t make sense for them to take a safety course now. She also said it’s not right to allow an officer to go on private property if they suspect the law’s being broken, since the tip might have come from feuding family members.

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