Ohio capital city announces crackdown on off-road vehicles

State

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Columbus police on Wednesday announced the results of a crackdown on illegal off-road vehicle driving, a phenomenon seen across the country recently and often attributed to frustration with coronavirus pandemic restrictions.

Police impounded 11 all-terrain vehicles, recovered two more that were stolen, and found six guns on individuals, including a gun possessed by a 14-year-old boy, said Columbus Deputy Chief Jennifer Knight.

Police have fielded hundreds of complaints about packs of off-road vehicles driving and drag racing on both sides of Columbus streets, driving on sidewalks, weaving in and out of traffic, and speeding through neighborhoods, she said.

On July 30, a group of 40-50 riders clipped a motorcyclist going the opposite direction on a city street and not part of the group, sending the rider to the hospital with serious injuries, Knight said.

“We’re addressing the ridiculous behavior, the lawlessness, the way they take over the roadways, the way they put people at risk,” she said.

Columbus city council last month approved an ordinance outlawing reckless operation of off-road vehicles and includes fines of up to $1,000.

Authorities in Buffalo; Newark, N.J.; Pittsburgh and Toledo carried out similar crackdowns earlier this year.

While it’s understandable that people want to get out after being cooped up during the pandemic, they must stick to legal activities, said LaShanna Potts, assistant Columbus police chief.