DURHAM, N.C. (WNCN) – From dirt bikes passing and weaving between cars to groups of ATV riders blocking traffic on city streets, the people of Durham have brought concerns to CBS 17 about all-terrain vehicles creating traffic hazards on the roads.
CBS 17 viewers have sent in videos of ATV riders illegally passing vehicles on county roads and in the heart of downtown Durham.
“I have seen them on Main Street, you can see them doing their stunts,” said Christina Crosby, a concerned driver from Durham. “You don’t know if they’re going to lose control. They’re unregistered, there’s no license, and there’s no insurance. So, if they do damage to you, you’re responsible for it.”
Some concerned drivers like Keith Eudy are questioning why law enforcement are not doing more to address this problem.
“I was downtown and a bunch of them blew through an intersection down there,” Eudy said. “Should we all have a day where we decide what laws to follow? Should we all ignore all traffic laws? The city, the law enforcement, and the leadership in this town need to do something about it.”
According to North Carolina state law, riding these all-terrain vehicles on public roads is illegal.
So, what are the Durham Police Department and the Durham County Sheriff’s Office doing to address this?
CBS 17 reached out to both agencies, and neither agency would answer specific questions about plans to address this problem.
But through an open records request, CBS 17 obtained an email that Durham Chief of Police Patrice Andrews sent to a concerned citizen, who had reached out to her about his concerns about ATV riders on the roads.
In the email, she said that often when officers attempt to stop these ATV riders, they flee. She explained that the risks of chasing them outweigh the reward.
However, she did say the department is planning to think long term about options to address the behavior demonstrated by some of these groups of ATV riders.
But some groups of ATV riders in Durham have a larger purpose than joyriding.
Jamal Lewis is president of Southern Soul ATV Club.
Lewis’ club goes on rides once a month and he said one of the purposes of his group is to give young kids in the community something to do.
“There’s a lot of kids out here who are misguided and those are the ones that we want,” Lewis said. “Once we get on those trails, those kids open up and they talk because they feel so free.”
Lewis said they do have to ride on the roads to get to their trails.
“We try to obey all the laws, stop at all the stop signs,” Lewis said. “There’s no need to cause any more danger on the road.”
Lewis said he thinks there is a solution to addressing the other drivers’ concerns about ATVs on the roads.
He said he is calling on the city to create more trails where ATV and dirt bikers can legally ride.
“There’s really nowhere for them to ride, so I’m trying to make a way,” Lewis said. “You can’t stop someone from riding four wheelers and dirt bikes, but you can try to make it safe.”
CBS 17 reached out to the City of Durham to see if it would consider creating more trails specifically for these ATV riders. A city spokesperson said this would require a broader discussion about possible costs and locations that has not happened at this time.
While the Durham County Sheriff’s Office would not say how they plan to address concerns about ATV riders on the roads, the agency did say they have received five reports of careless and reckless calls for service related to ATVs.
According to data from the North Carolina Division of Motor Vehicles, last year there were 62 crashes involving ATVs across the state, 45 resulted in injury, and three of those crashes were fatal.
Below is a breakdown of how many ATV crashes there have been in North Carolina since 2016. However, their data does not show if these crashes occurred on or off public roads.
North Carolina ATV crashes
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