Gov. Nikki Haley is expected to sign a new law today regulating all-terrain-vehicle use -- a move that follows advocates' five-year fight for tougher rules on young ATV riders.
Under the new measure, children 15 and younger must complete safety training before operating ATVs, wear helmets and eye protection and be accompanied by an adult. The law will make it illegal for children younger than 6 to operate ATVs and for children younger than 16 to carry passengers on them.
"Chandler's Law" is named for a 16-year-old Swansea boy who died from injuries in an ATV wreck in 2003. Tuesday was the eighth anniversary of his death.
"We have to feel like the incredible timing is a sign we've done the right thing," Pam Saylor, Chandler's mother, said Tuesday. "He knows and he's aware. Now we can move on to the next chapter."
The Saylor family plans to coordinate with the S.C. Children's Hospital Collaborative, a nonprofit group that represents the state's four children's hospitals, to educate parents about the new law. No outreach programs have been established yet.
Since 2007, the state House and Senate twice have passed Chandler's Law. Each time Gov. Mark Sanford vetoed the measure, citing infringement on parents' rights and on residents' personal property rights.
The bill to be signed today says law enforcement must witness a violation before entering private property.
The Saylor family and a spokeswoman from the Children's Hospital Collaborative acknowledge that enforcement could prove challenging, but said they believe the law will help prevent injuries and death. About 450 children are injured in ATV accidents annually in South Carolina, according to statistics provided by the collaborative. All but a handful of states already have laws regulating ATV use.
The Saylor family plans to attend a private bill-signing ceremony at the Statehouse this afternoon.
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