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State Intends To Require License As Part Of ATV And Snowmachine Road-use Proposal

A state notice answers questions related to a Dunleavy administration proposal to make it legal to drive off highway vehicles, like 4 wheelers and snow machines, on state roads with speed limits of 45 miles per hour or less.  KUAC’s Dan Bross reports.

Last week KUAC reported that the proposal would allow unlicensed drivers, including those under 16 years old, to drive such vehicles on qualifying state roads, but a subsequently issued state “question and answer notice”, points to a second regulatory change proposal to require ATV and snow machine operators have a driver’s license and insurance to legally operate on roads.  The state is not commenting on the proposals, which involve numerous regulations and definitions, resulting in some confusion and questions.

 “I’m sitting here and trying to interpret this and having a hard time doing so myself, so those who aren’t reading quite so deeply into this, how are they going to interpret it?”

Nathan Belz is a University of Alaska Fairbanks associate professor of civil and environmental engineering, who’s well versed in off-highway vehicle issues. Belz says the initial state proposal made it seem that a driver’s license would not be required. 

 “The information I had at hand and I think the information a lot of people had at hand previously, led one to believe that was going to be the case.”    

Even with the proposed license requirement, Belz remains very concerned about the prospect of legalizing use of ATV’s, snow machines and other off highway vehicles on some roads. Belz worked on a recent safety study that he says illustrated the danger of snow machines and ATV’s on Alaska roads. The state is taking public comment on the proposals, after which it could adopt them.  ###

Dan has been in public radio news in Alaska since 1993. He’s worked as a reporter, newscaster and talk show host at stations in McGrath, Valdez and Fairbanks. Dan’s experience includes coverage of a wide range of topics, from wolf control to the Trans-Alaska Pipeline and dog mushing.