DURHAM, NC (WNCN) — From dirt bikes passing and weaving between cars to groups of ATV riders blocking traffic on city streets, residents of Durham CBS 17 have concerns about off-road vehicles voiced that cause traffic hazards on the roads.
CBS 17 viewers have broadcast videos of ATV drivers illegally overtaking vehicles on county roads and in the heart of downtown Durham.
“I’ve seen them on Main Street, you can see them doing their stunts,” said Christina Crosby, a concerned Durham driver. “You don’t know if they’re going to lose control. They are not registered, there is no license and there is no insurance. So if they harm you, you are responsible for it.”
Some concerned drivers, like Keith Eudy, are wondering why law enforcement isn’t doing more to address this issue.
“I was downtown and a couple of them flew through an intersection down there,” Eudy said. “Should we all have a day to decide which laws we follow? Should we all ignore all traffic rules? The city, law enforcement and leadership in this city need to do something about this.”
It is illegal under North Carolina state law to operate these SUVs on public roads.
So what are the Durham Police Department and Durham County Sheriff’s Office doing to address this?
CBS 17 reached out to both agencies, and neither agency answered specific questions about plans to address this issue.
But through an open file request, CBS 17 received an email that Durham Police Chief Patrice Andrews sent to a concerned citizen who had contacted them about concerns about ATV drivers on the streets.
In the email, she said officers often flee when they try to stop these ATV riders. She explained that the risks of chasing them outweigh the rewards.
However, she said the department plans to consider long-term options to address the behavior of some of these groups of ATV riders.
But some groups of ATV riders in Durham have a bigger purpose than joyriding.
Jamal Lewis is President of the Southern Soul ATV Club.
Lewis’ club runs trips once a month and he said one of the purposes of his group is to give young children something to do in the community.
“There are a lot of kids out here who are misguided, and those are the ones we want,” Lewis said. “As soon as we get on these trails, these kids open up and talk because they feel so free.”
Lewis said they have to drive on the road to get to their trails.
“We try to obey all laws and stop at all stop signs,” Lewis said. “There doesn’t have to be any more danger on the road.”
Lewis said he believes there is a solution to address other riders’ concerns about ATVs on the roads.
He said he’s calling on the city to create more trails for ATV and dirt bikers to legally ride.
“There’s really nowhere they can ride, so I’m trying to find a way,” Lewis said. “You can’t stop anyone from riding quads and dirt bikes, but you can try to make it safe.”
CBS 17 reached out to the City of Durham to see if they would consider creating more trails specifically for these ATV riders. A city spokesman said this would require a broader discussion about potential costs and locations, which has not taken place at this time.
While the Durham County Sheriff’s Office declined to say how it intends to address concerns about ATV drivers on the roads, the agency said it has received five reports of careless and reckless service calls involving ATVs.
According to data from the North Carolina Division of Motor Vehicles, there were 62 accidents involving ATVs statewide last year, 45 resulted in injuries, and three of those accidents were fatal.
Below is a breakdown of the number of ATV accidents in North Carolina since 2016. However, their data does not show whether these accidents occurred on or off public roads.
North Carolina ATV crashes
|YEAR||ALL falls||FATAL falls||INJURY FALL|
https://www.cbs17.com/news/local-news/durham-county-news/concerns-rise-about-atv-riders-illegally-driving-on-durham-streets-what-can-be-done-to-address-this/ What can be done about it?