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September 1, 2014, 10:25 pm

Rec. Dept. cracks down on all-terrain vehicles

A citywide effort, spearheaded by the Parks and Recreation Department, continues to update citizens across Philadelphia about efforts to make the streets free and safe from illegal ATVs.

On Wednesday night, at a community meeting at 250 South 63rd Street, Commissioner Mike DiBerardinis continued to update residents about what the commission, which replaced the old Fairmount Park Commission, is doing

“It’s an ongoing process,” DiBerardinis said, “but the hope is to continue to have the violators of the city respect the laws of the city. It’s for their safety and other citizens as well.”

The meeting was the second such meeting this fall. Earlier this year, at a meeting in Tacony Park, the Philadelphia Police Department, the Water Department and the Department of Parks and Recreation announced that they were making great strides in ridding the city of the illegal, four-wheel vehicles.

The profile of the lawbreakers is almost always the same: young men seeking a thrill who carelessly maneuver the vehicles through city streets, popping wheelies and revving the engines to an annoying level.

Make no mistake about it; it is illegal to drive the vehicles on city streets. And many of the vehicles are stolen, according to police. But the city will continue its efforts through the winter to continue to reduce the problem.

“If an ATV operator is stopped by police, the penalty is a traffic ticket — and of course they have to appear in traffic court. But if the ATV is stolen or if the operator resists arrest then they face other charges,” said Tasha Jamerson, spokesperson for the Philadelphia District Attorney’s office.

“It’s true, they are illegal to be operated on the city streets. They’re not designed for that and certainly not designed to be driven at breakneck speed, which you often see a lot of riders doing,” said Sgt. Robert Gramlich of the Philadelphia Police Department’s Accident Investigation Division. “They’re supposed to be registered, but I would say that in the city, 99 percent of them are not. They are either stolen or otherwise being used without the owners’ permission. Most of the ones we see that are involved in accident investigations are stolen.”

According to statistics from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Division, the number of four-wheeled ATVs in use across the nation has increased from just over 2 million to more than 6.9 million over the past decade. From 1982 through 2004, there were almost 6,500 deaths involving ATVS. In 2004 alone, an estimated 136,000 people were treated in hospital emergency rooms for ATV related injuries; many of those injuries were life-altering. In 2003, an estimated 740 people died nationwide in ATV incidents. About 30 percent of all deaths and injuries from ATV accidents involve children younger than 16.

Across the state, there are a number of regulations regarding the operation of ATVs:

*All ATVs must be titled and registered, with the owner receiving one numbered plate.

*No ATV shall be operated without a lighted headlight and taillight from ½ hour after sun set to ½ hour before sunrise.

* Registration is to be renewed once every two years.

No one under age 8 shall operate an ATV on state-owned land.

*No one between 8 and 15 may operate an ATV unless on a parent’s land or in possession of a safety training certificate.

*No one under 16 may cross a highway or operate an ATV on designated roads unless in possession of safety certificate and with an adult 18 or over.

*ATV use on any street or highway is prohibited, except to cross and except for roads designated at ATV roads.


Contact Tribune staff writer John N. Mitchell at (215) 893-5745 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .