Since its introduction to the public in the 1960’s, the All-Terrain Vehicle (ATV) generated many controversies. Some of these deal with safety issues, as original 3-wheel ATVs proved too dangerous for riders. Even improved 4-wheel ATVs still represent certain risks. Another controversy is the age limits for the riders of ATVs. Many states prohibit minors under the age of 16 from driving an ATV. However, one of the most predominant controversies regarding ATVs, is defining the areas of permitted usage. Where and when these vehicles continually pops up as an issue, as many drivers irresponsibly disregard laws that prohibit the use of ATVs in certain areas.
The issues surrounding ATVs and land usage are many. A major problem is many riders intentionally cross over into privately owned property. They also make a habit of crossing into public and private properties where they were never intended to ride.
Often, laws limit ATV use strictly to trails, but riders still feel the need to leave these trails and venture on to other property.
Environmentalists are some of the biggest opponents of ATVs. They believe that riders who use ATVs for sporting purposes are inconsiderate of the environment. For example, they claim that the vehicle sees excessively use in areas largely considered biologically sensitive, such as wetlands and sand dunes. Environmentalists claim the deep treads on some ATV tires are capable of digging channels that drain boggy areas. They also claim these tires damage the careful grooming of most snowmobile trails and increase the levels of sedimentation in streams.
However, proponents of ATVs argue the deep-treaded tires are necessary for the safe navigation of muddy and often rocky terrains. They also point to a number of findings that attribute the erosion and decay of sensitive habitats to out-of-control house planning and industries that extract goods and materials from these highly sensitive areas.