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Hatfield McCoy Trails

Hatfield-McCoy Trails “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. Lusk said.

“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.

Some statistics:

  • 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 older.
  • 22 percent of crashes involve alcohol or drugs.

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 for permits.

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 ATV-related fatalities.

“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.

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