Senate votes to expand ATV road access, speed limits
March 10, 2015
The Utah Senate voted Monday to amend the laws that apply to street-legal all-terrain vehicles (ATVs) in order to allow the vehicles on more roadways. The bill, SB 258, passed by a 21-4 vote (Summit County’s senator, Kevin Van Tassell (R – Vernal), voted yes) and is now before the House.
The bill would allow "street-legal" ATVs on any state roads or highways outside of Salt Lake County other than interstate freeways. It would also increase the maximum speed limit for the vehicles from 45 to 50 miles per hour. The Salt Lake Tribune reported that the bill’s sponsor, Sen. Scott Jenkins (R – Plain City) was convinced to not raise the maximum speed higher by Utah Highway Patrol.
Summit County Sheriff Justin Martinez says "that’s probably a smart move."
"It keeps those vehicles off the freeway. I think that’s the intent of that reorganization of the bill is it keeps [ATVs] off the freeway at higher speeds, because although the speed limit is 65, you do have people doing 65, 75, 80 miles per hour on the freeway, it’s a little more problematic," he said.
Paul Weller, general manager at Weller Recreation in Kamas, was not familiar with the details of SB 258, but said that he generally supports greater ATV accessibility.
"Especially in rural communities, in our area, that’s where a lot of the work happens is going to change sprinklers," he said. "Ranchers and farmers use them all the time, and law enforcement is really caught in the middle of it. And I think what sometimes this does is clarify for them what they should do because sometimes they just turn a blind eye in these rural communities. Because it’s just part of the work environment, what’s going on in the community," he said.
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Martinez said he supports SB 258.
"In general, as long as they are street-legal, street-compliant, and adhere to all the same lights, emissions [requirements] as any other vehicle, and they can maintain the speed of the traffic flow, I personally don’t have a problem with it. I mean, you look at the size of a motorcycle or moped, they’re pretty small, but they’re street legal," he said.
"Anybody that’s riding in a moped or an ATV street legal vehicle, wear your seatbelt, be safe out there," the sheriff added.
Rep. Kraig Powell (R – Heber City), whose district includes Park City, said that he was not familiar with the bill as of Tuesday morning and will need to get up to speed on it before he "can weigh in." The House will need to hurry if it’s going to vote on SB 258 because Utah’s legislative session ends this Thursday, March 12.
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