News reports are still coming in this morning. It is not clear exactly what happened to Britney Spears’ 8-year-old niece down in Louisiana over the Super Bowl weekend. The Spears family has confirmed the young girl was seriously injured in an ATV accident.
We are told she was a passenger on a Polaris off-road vehicle. It’s unclear if she was thrown underwater in the crash. It is known she was airlifted to a local medical facility.
Our prayers are that the child, Maddie Aldridge (her mother is Jamie Lynn), is not severely injured and makes a speedy recovery.
Britney Spears’ Niece’s ATV Accident Brings Attention to Danger of Child ATV Crashes
Even with the hoopla surrounding the Patriots comeback victory over the Falcons, Britney Spears’ celebrity status is driving more and more media coverage of Sunday’s ATV crash and how All-Terrain vehicle accidents can be sudden and serious.
Imagine being out there in the Louisiana wild, having fun on a sunny afternoon, and suddenly there is an ATV crash? What happens next? How fast can medical care be provided to the victim? What if the victim is a young child? Are there special concerns when a child is involved in an ATV accident?
Here’s the thing with All-Terrain Vehicles. They’re not designed to compete with cars or sedans or other motor vehicles that drive people to work or to school. They are marketed and sold as a different kind of vehicle.
Often, they are insured differently, too. This means kids and teenagers ride them for fun legally here in Indiana (and Illinois).
Remembering Indiana’s Kate Bruggenschmidt
Hoosiers may be reminded of another young girl who was seriously injured in an ATV accident. Kate Bruggenschmidt was only 11 years old when she was involved in a crash involving an All-Terrain vehicle.
Kate and a young friend were enjoying an ATV ride over in Spencer County back in 2015 when their vehicle overturned. They were riding up a hill at the time. Sadly, Kate succumbed to those injuries.
Her mother, Ashlee Bruggenschmidt, has spearheaded a campaign to have laws changed to better protect children who are riding on ATVs here in Indiana. It’s become known as the “Play for Kate Bill.”
Indiana House Bill 1200
Officially, the Play for Kate Bill is “House Bill 1200.” That is how the proposed new law appears before the Indiana General Assembly in its current session.
If passed, this new legislation would amend current Indiana law. It would become effective on July 1, 2017. Specifically, it would change IC 9-18.1, adding new sections (a) and (b) to IC 9-18.1-14-11.
Under the new law, anyone under the age of 18 years old would have to wear a helmet if they were to ride on an All-Terrain Vehicle in the State of Indiana.
It would not matter if they were driving the ATV or if they were a passenger. If the “Play for Kate Bill” becomes law, kids on ATVs will have to have a helmet.
Here is the current version of the proposed Indiana ATV Child Safety Helmet Law (as of February 6, 2017):
(a) An individual less than eighteen (18) years of age who is operating or riding on an off-road vehicle shall wear a helmet that meets the standards established by the United States Department of Transportation under 49 CFR 7571.218 as in effect January 1, 1979.
(b) An individual who violates this section commits a Class C infraction.
Will Indiana Pass the “Play for Kate” Bill?
Of course, this is only a proposal before the Indiana House. There are lots of proposals that are made by State Representatives that seem like great ideas but never end up in the statute books.
Children under the age of 18 years old can ride an ATV in Indiana right now and legally not have to put on a safety helmet to do so. That’s dangerous, but that’s the reality. Because the bill isn’t law yet.
Hopefully, the news coverage for Britney Spears’ niece suffering injuries in an ATV accident this weekend will bring more attention to this pending Indiana law.
Nothing good can be said of this young girl’s accident down in Louisiana. But if discussion of her crash helps Hoosiers get this ATV child safety law passed here in Indiana that is a good thing.
Children’s ATV Accidents in Indiana and Illinois
In our next post, we’ll delve into the special circumstances involved in children and teenagers riding or driving an All-Terrain Vehicle. Children’s ATV Accidents usually involve injuries to the child that are serious and often fatal.
Anyone riding as a passenger on an All-Terrain Vehicle needs to be aware of the risks involved in riding on an ATV. The dangers only increase as the ATV maneuvers over uneven terrain. Children face special dangers while they are ATV passengers. Let’s be careful out there!