by Ellen Krabbe
I have been listening to many questions and concerns about ATV and UTV recreation and I am happy that we are getting resident input. Most people have concerns about regulations, enforcement and safety. These are also things we are concerned about and a major reason for our existence as a club. Let me share with you the response I gave one person.
I understand your concern since safety is also our concern. If you have seen an ATV on a city street it was illegal unless it was plowing snow. And like all illegal activity they were probably going fast not to get caught.
There are two types of ATV/UTV riders.
- The first group are the sports riders; typically riding on trails and this group is often the same group that rides snowmobiles.
- The second group are the recreational riders, typically on trails and ATV routes, these are mostly families of all ages looking to get fresh air and observe nature. The average age is older than the first group and these are very responsible riders who have the financial means to buy the bigger more expensive machines.
It is the behavior or Group 1 that has given ATV riding a bad name. We are seeking to promote growth of the second group with its more relaxed behavior, since rural routes are limited to 35 mph and the speed limit in town is 25 mph and 15 mph in school zones. These are perfect speeds for Group 2. As Group 2 develops it will be easier to promote changes in behavior in Group 1.
Using fatal accidents as a point of comparison, our recent research revealed the following statistics on fatal accidents (keeping in mind that ATV and UTV statistics include both groups of riders) in 2017
- ATV/UTV = 7 per 100,00
- Automobile = 146 per 100,000
I can assure you that even one fatality is too many and we will work toward zero fatalities in our surrounding areas.
A recent DNR report has evaluated the safety of ATVs and UTVs. https://dnr.wi.gov/files/pdf/pubs/le/LEB314_2018.pdf
- From 2017 to 2018 the number of ATV/UTVs increased by over 20,000 but the fatality rate decreased. (Page 8)
- The number of ATV and UTV incidents have decreased steadily since 2015 despite increased users
- We believe that the statistics for UTVs are more representative of recreational riders and the number of incidents is significantly lower than boating, ATV or snowmobiling (Page 10)
- Off-Highway vehicles incidents on Routes is extremely low compared with private land, public roads that are not routes and public trails (Page 10)
Concerning your question of age requirements, the Wisconsin ATV regulations include use of ATV/UTVs on trails, private and public land, as well as use for hunting, fishing and agriculture. It becomes quite complicated to consider each use, each age group and differing situations. You can get that information at https://dnr.wi.gov/files/PDF/pubs/le/LE0500.pdf
For simplicity, let’s just consider the case of use of ATVs and UTV on our city streets (if an ordinance is passed) and for recreational use on existing ATV Routes on rural roads. It is our understanding that the following are true.
- No children under 12 can operate an ATV or UTV on roadways, not even to cross
- Children operating an ATV between the ages of 12-15 must be accompanied by an adult designated by the parent or guardian on designated road routes.
- No child under 16 can operate a UTV on a roadway
- Youth 16 and over may operate an ATV or UTV on roadways if they possess an ATV safety Certificate, and if they wear a helmet (not required after 18 but highly recommended)
We are happy to get input from all concerned citizens and this is essential if we are to develop recreation activities that are safe and a benefit to the community. You can learn more at our next meeting. See our calendar https://ruralroadsatv.org/calendar/