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ATV accidents prompt safety call

– A deadly crash in Monroe County last weekend is calling attention to the dangers of all-terrain vehicles across the state.

Daniel Cutshaw, 25, of Spencer became the 14th person in Indiana this year to die in an ATV crash. In all, 232 crashes have caused 263 injuries this year, according to the Indiana Department of Natural Resources, which tracks ATV wrecks.

The numbers are up from last year as the vehicles become more common as utility vehicles on farms and among recreational users.

“ATVs are popular, and people are getting out on them more,” said Sgt. Jeff Barker, a conservation officer. “Unfortunately, they are not required to have a training course.”

More than 200 people in Indiana have died in ATV crashes since 1982.

Barker said he would like to see all ATV operators take training classes. The DNR’s outdoor recreation division will soon offer an ATV safety program.

Barker said some ATV manufacturers offer discounts if buyers agree to complete a safety training course.

“These things weigh 500 to 1,000 pounds, and you have to be careful and know what you’re doing,” Barker said.

Indiana law requires ATVs to be titled and registered if they are used on public land. Children younger than 14 cannot legally operate an ATV unless they are on their parents’ land or under direct supervision of an adult.

State law prohibits their use on paved roads, but some counties, including Lawrence, Jackson and Greene, have passed ordinances allowing them on certain roads, Barker said.

Last month, conservation officers responded to three ATV crashes with serious injuries over a two-day period. The operators all were hospitalized, including an 11-year-old boy who was not wearing a helmet and struck a barbed-wire fence, suffering severe facial cuts.

A Martinsville boy died when he crashed an ATV while a friend was on board.

Cutshaw’s death occurred on private property west of Ellettsville. Barker said the ATV flipped over backward while on a steep hill and pinned Cutshaw beneath it. A passenger escaped unharmed.