GREENVILLE, S.C. (WSPA) In the past several weeks, we have reported on multiple off-road vehicle-related deaths. On Wednesday, 7NEWS spoke to a longtime all-terrain vehicle (ATV) driver about his experience and dug into the requirements you need to be able to operate the vehicle.

Greenville County resident Derrick Griffin has been riding ATV’s for more than 50 years.

“Oh my gosh, that’s therapy for me,” Griffin said.

He told 7NEWS that all it took was one close call to understand the importance of safety gear.

“It convinced me to wear my safety gear and I have been wearing it for over 50 years,” said Griffin.

According to the South Carolina Department of Motor Vehicles, it is illegal to drive ATV’s on public roads.

“They are not legal in the state of South Carolina if you do that. You’ve got to have a tag. ATV’s, unfortunately, you have to be off-road only,” Griffin said.

According to the US Consumer Product Safety Commission, there have been more than 2,000 off-road vehicle related deaths between 2016 and 2018. DHEC said an average of six children die each year in South Carolina from ATV-related injuries.

In the recent months, law enforcement agencies have responded to several deaths here in the Upstate.

Upstate middle schooler dies after ATV accident

In 2020, the commission estimated more than 112,000 off-road vehicle injuries were treated in hospitals across the nation.

That’s a statistic that Griffin said he never wants to be a part of.

“I wear boots. I wear protective clothing like jackets, pants, gloves, eye protection, helmet, even wind protection around my neck,” said Griffin.

After years of riding, Griffin said learning how to properly operate his vehicle began at a young age.

In 2011, South Carolina’s General Assembly passed Chandler’s Law and outlined several ATV regulations. It includes, but is not limited to the following:

  • A child must be 6-years-old to ride an ATV.
  • All children 15-years-old and younger must wear a helmet and safety goggles when riding an ATV.
  • If a child is 15-years-old or younger they must take a professional ATV training course before riding an ATV.
  • If a child is under the age of 16 and does not have a driver’s license, then they are not allowed to travel with passengers on the ATV.
  • It is unlawful for a parent or legal guardian with a child under 16-years-old to allow their child to operate an ATV in violation of the Age Restriction Warning Label

Fill list of Chandler’s Law requirements

According to the South Carolina Department of Motor Vehicles, you cannot drive an ATV:

  • More than 30 minutes after sunset or more than 30 minutes before sunrise unless headlights are on
  • Under the influence of alcohol or drugs
  • In a reckless manner

“Supervision. You don’t let those kids get out there by themselves,” said Griffin. “You have got to supervise them.” 

After five decades, Griffin said it is important to know the laws and how your vehicle operates.

“I would definitely say you need to understand that machine in and out,” said Griffin. “It’s all about confidence. Saddle time.” 

The US Consumer Product Safety Commission recommends the following safe riding tips:

  • Get hands-on training from a qualified instructor, e.g., in an ATV Safety Institute (ASI) course.
  • Never ride with more passengers than there are seats. Most ATVs are designed for one rider.
  • Never ride on public roads, except to cross, where permitted by law.
  • Avoid drinking alcohol before or while driving an ATV, because alcohol can impair judgment and response time.
  • Stay off paved roads.
  • Riders younger than 16 should drive only age-appropriate youth models, and never adult models.
  • Always wear a helmet and other protective gear, such as eye protection, boots, gloves, long pants and a long-sleeved shirt.