A compromise plan to let all-terrain vehicles travel on more county and state highways has cleared the Iowa House. Representative Bobby Kaufmann of Wilton said new safety measures are incorporated in his original plan.
“At the end of the day, it comes down to personal resposibility and there’s only so much the government can do for you as far as babysitting,” Kaufmann said.
If the bill becomes law, ATVs driving on local highways would have to be equipped with headlights, tail lights, turn signals and mirrors, plus the drivers would have to be at least 18 and have liability insurance. City officials would be able to prohibit ATVs from driving within city limits. The bill also sets a 35 mile an hour speed limit for ATVs driving on county or state highways.
“I think there are a lot of things in here that do improve safety, including for the counties that currently allow this,” Representative Christina Bohannan of Iowa City said. “I’m not saying it’s perfect, but I do think it makes some improvement.”
Existing county ordinances designating where ATVs may travel on local highways would remain in effect, but county boards of supervisors would have to get a local ATV club’s sign off if any changes are made in the future. Representative Dennis Cohoon of Burlington said that’s a loss of local control.
“Over two-thirds of the counties already have an ordinance,” Cohoon said. “…If that’s up to negotiation with any group, I’m sure they would feel like that they’re losing their control over being able to determine which roads are best, which roads are safest in their given areas.”
Cohoon said ATVs aren’t meant to be driven on highways and he was one of 29 House members to vote against the bill. There were 64 “yes” votes, though, sending the bill to the Senate for review.