“Safest Place to Ride in the Country”
LYBURN, WV - Since opening in 2000, the
Hatfield-McCoy Trails has been one of the safest
places in the country to ride ATVs.
Hatfield-McCoy’s safety record comes against
a backdrop of a recent spate of ATV accidents,
some of the fatal, in West Virginia and
nationally. There were at least two fatal
accidents in West Virginia during the third week
of July alone (July 20-24). Elsewhere, Nebraska
has had four ATV-related fatalities and
Wisconsin three just in July, with others in
Minnesota, North Carolina, Texas and Virginia.
“While accidents do occur on the Trails, they
are far fewer and less serious than those that
occur elsewhere,” Executive Director Jeffrey T.
“We’ve sold about 177,000 permits since we
opened and should sell another 30,000 this year.
Figuring an average of 15 days on the trails for
each permit sold, that means we’ve had well over
2.5 million days of riding and we’ve only had
four fatalities,” Lusk said.
“Although that’s four too many, we are proud
of our safety record and attribute it to our
trail rules and law enforcement,” he said.
- More than 95 percent of crash victims
are not wearing a helmet.
- One-third of crashes involve passengers.
- About 40 percent of crashes occur on
paved streets and roads.
- 24 percent of the deaths involve
children 16 years of age and younger, with
12 percent among men 65 years of age and
- 22 percent of crashes involve alcohol or
Hatfield-McCoy rules address all those
issues, banning passengers except on vehicles
(such as utility-type vehicles) which are
designed for them, prohibiting alcohol,
requiring helmets and setting age requirements
Additionally, Hatfield-McCoy has a
state-trained and approved Ranger force to
patrol the trails and enforce the rules.
Also, the legislation creating the trails
includes provisions that allow towns to adopt
special ordinances to permit ATVs and similar
vehicles on city streets. Without the special
ordinances, ATVs are not allowed on roads with a
center line. The rules were adopted in 2004 to
address West Virginia’s nation-high rate of
“The Hatfield-McCoy Trails are the safest
place to ride in the country,” said Deputy
Executive Director John Fekete.
Between March 1 and June 30 of this year,
there have been six accidents reported on the
Trails, none of them fatal, and “all of the
accidents are due to driver error,” according to
Ranger Sgt. John Hall Jr.
While its safety record is already strong,
Hatfield-McCoy is investing another $10,000 to
create a database which will help monitor
crashes and where they occur. The information
should help make sure the Trails themselves
don’t contribute to accidents.
The Hatfield-McCoy Trial System was created
by the West Virginia Legislature to generate
economic development through tourism in nine
southern West Virginia counties. It currently
operates six systems with more than 500 miles of
trails. Each system is open 365 days a year to
ATVs, dirt bikes, select utility vehicles
(UTVs), mountain bikes, horses, and hikers. Many
of the trail systems also offer community
connecting trails that allow visitors to access
“ATV-friendly towns” to experience the charm of
southern West Virginia.