angie.thompson@gaflnews.com



TIFTON -- A four-wheeler accident Sunday on Sutton Road sent two Tift County boys to Tift Regional Medical Center. One was treated and released and the other was listed in good condition Monday.

"It seems in the last few years, we have worked more and more of these," said Sgt. 1st Class Lawton Taylor, Georgia State Patrol Post 13 commander. "Everyone has them (four-wheelers) now and it has really become a big problem."

According to the incident report, Matthew Willis, 14, was driving a Polaris four-wheeler and traveling east on Sutton Road when the accident occurred. Willis told troopers he was backing the vehicle and turned too short, causing it to overturn.

Willis and his passenger, Kent Hill, 13, were taken to Tift Regional Medical Center for treatment of their injuries. Willis was treated and released and a hospital spokesman said Hill was in good condition there Monday.

Taylor said there are currently no laws specific to operation of four-wheelers and his agency and other law enforcement agencies are awaiting a draft of a new law from the legislature.

Currently, four-wheel off-road vehicles are regulated under the same laws as other off-road vehicles such as motorcycles -- tail light, tag and insurance requirements.

Manufacturers of such vehicles apply sticker warnings on some of their four-wheel vehicles advising what age drivers should be to operate them. Many, if not all of them, recommend no passengers.

Taylor said he had seen an increase in the number of the four-wheelers on both dirt and paved public roadways.

Much of the responsibility for the operation of the vehicles lies with parents. Taylor said he has seen children as young as 6 driving the "bigger machines."

"I've worked fatalities on these things and I really don't think, at that age, they comprehend the danger," Taylor said.

A Tifton man was charged March 31 after a passenger vehicle collided with the four-wheeler he was driving on Golden Road.

Johnny Lyles was driving a four-wheeler west on Golden Road at 1 a.m. when Ricardo Brown, driving a Jeep Grand Cherokee, made a left-hand turn in front of him. Lyles and a passenger, James Gray, 47, were taken to TRMC for treatment.

Lyles was charged with driving under the influence pending blood tests conducted on him and Gray. Lyles was also charged with several equipment violations. TRMC had no information on Gray or Lyles Monday.

In other unrelated accidents:

Ronnie House of Decatur, Ala., failed to negotiate a curve and lost control of his 1999 International tractor trailer, flipping the vehicle. The accident occurred at 1:20 a.m. Monday on I-75, just south of the U.S. Highway 319 bridge. House was transported to TRMC for treatment. His condition was unknown at presstime.

The report on a two-vehicle accident Saturday at U.S. Highway 319 North and Mack Drive is incomplete at this time. Involved in the accident were Ruth Davis, 81, of Douglas who was driving a 1991 Lincoln Town Car and Gina Green, 33, of Tifton, who was driving a 2000 Dodge Caravan. TRMC had no information Monday on Davis and Green had been treated and released, according to a spokesman.



To contact Angie Thompson, call 382-4321, ext. 208



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