Agencies develop strategies to improve safety on trail rides

CHICKASAW COUNTY, Miss.  (WCBI) – Originally a social event for horseback riding, the treks have evolved with the rising popularity of ATVs, UTVs, and other off-road vehicles.

Increasing injuries and fatalities are why law enforcement agencies are developing strategies to enhance safety on those trail rides.

Both the Chickasaw County Sheriff’s Office and the Columbus Police Department are emphasizing the importance of regulation and community awareness to prevent future tragedies.

James Myers is the sheriff of Chickasaw County.

He says permits aren’t required to host a trail ride, but with some of these events involving more than 200 people, organizers should be aware of the consequences if something were to go awry.

“Anytime we hear of a large gathering like that, you know we’re gonna be visible. We’re gonna come see the property owner or the promoter and kinda tell them the do’s and the don’t’s,” said Myers.

For example, many trial rides allow minors entry even when alcohol is present. Under Mississippi’s host law, if alcohol is present at an event where minors are, the owner of the property or promotor assumes all responsibility if any person under the age of 21 consumes alcohol. The owner could be fined and arrested.

“We wanna give them a fair warning ’cause if there’s alcohol involved, Chickasaw county is basically dry so you know we will be out there enforcing the law. Not only that part of it but people need to understand the civil part of it, if you host one of these events and somebody gets hurt then you know you could lose everything you got,” said Myers.

Mississippi prohibits all off-road vehicles from being driven on public roads and highways, including country back roads as well.

Darnell Madison is an investigator with the Columbus Police Department.

Although Columbus doesn’t see trail rides hosted in city limits, police and city drivers sometimes have to deal with the spillover from rides held in Lowndes County.

“A lot of those trail ride members live in our city. Their equipment, their ATVs, four wheelers, are at their home, and a lot of times they like to drive those throughout the city which is against city ordinance. Most of our calls are coming from residential areas of them driving around. So we’re increasing patrol during those peak hours where we get most of those calls to catch those individuals,” said Madison.

From January 1, 2023, to March 28, 2023, 48 ATV fatalities were recorded in Mississippi, according to

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