Illegal ATV and dirt bike activity spikes on public roadways in Winston-Salem

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. -- Illegal ATV and dirt bike activity on public roads in Winston-Salem is on the rise.

On Friday, FOX8 cameras recorded four men, three on ATVs and one on a dirt bike, at the intersection of University Parkway and Bethabara Park Boulevard. The men started rolling into the intersection, then took off toward downtown while two of them popped wheelies.

“One wheel, going up and down,” said Aldeen Smith, who has witnessed the riders in his neighborhood, near Peachtree Street.

In April, police say they received approximately eight calls regarding a group as large as 100 people, ridign ATVs and dirt bikes on roads throughout the city. They say the group intentionally blocked roadways and were riding in a careless and reckless manner.

“It was pretty loud, because I was in there watching television and I heard all the racket,” said Clatis McClinton, who witnessed one of the riders being arrested by police. “I didn’t know where it was coming from.”

Police say they have arrested about 10 individuals as a result of the event, including charging some with misdemeanor riot. They add that one rider had a firearm, another had drugs and one man had six outstanding warrants for auto theft.

“On a public street, it’s too dangerous, with the traffic out here now,” McClinton said, about illegal riding on public roads.

Statistics from the police department show a spike in illegal ATV activity in the city.

In 2013, there were 15 offenses involving ATVs in the city. In 2014, that number dropped to six, before jumping to 18 in 2015. In 2016 and 2017, there were 11. However, so far this year, that figure is already at 18.

“Go out on the trails, go through the woods,” Smith said. “Put yourself in danger, don’t put others in danger.”

Police say they have yet to encounter someone who was riding illegally on public roadways who had auto insurance.

Although many of the riders in April’s event were from out-of-town, police say there was a local organizer and most of the day-to-day activity they encounter comes from locals.

Officers say they are more aware of the activity, but add that citizens are getting tired of the activity, so there has been an increase of calls.

The police department says more charges are to come.

“The Winston-Salem Police Department would like to take this opportunity to remind our citizens that it is a violation of state law to operate ATV’s in this fashion on public roadways and the governing NC General Statute is listed below:

  • N.C.G.S.  20-171.19 Subsection (e) to operate an all-terrain vehicle on any public street, road, or highway except for purposes of crossing that street, road, or highway, unless otherwise permitted by law.
  • N.C.G.S. 20-171.19 Subsection (d) which states no person shall operate an all-terrain vehicle in a careless or reckless manner so as to endanger or cause injury or damage to any person or property.”​