(THIS STORY HAS BEEN CORRECTED TO REFLECT THAT OPERATORS WILL BE REQUIRED TO HAVE A DRIVER'S LICENSE)
The Dunleavy administration is taking public comment on a proposal to make it legal to drive all-terrain vehicles and snow machines on roads with 45 mile per hour or less speed limits. KUAC’s Dan Bross reports.
The Dunleavy administration declined a request to comment on the proposal, but in a Facebook post the Governor said it’s to “provide Alaskans the greatest opportunity to safely and affordably travel throughout the state.” University of Alaska Fairbanks associate professor of civil and environmental engineering Nathan Belz was part of a partially state-funded study that looked at off highway vehicle safety in Alaska. Belz says the crash data was revealing.
“25% of all OHV accidents in the state that were documented in the Alaska Trauma Registry happened on roads,” he said. “It’s about 20% for snowmobiles.”
Belz calls the proposal ill-advised and dangerous. Fairbanks Area Surface Transportation or FAST Planning executive director Jackson Fox notes that cities, like Fairbanks and North Pole, could change local laws to ban snow machines and OHVs from their roads.
But “the problem exists beyond city limits. The Fairbanks North Star Borough doesn’t have road powers and they don’t have an enforcement arm,” he said.
Fox says the state proposal runs counter to an Alaska Highway Safety Office strategic plan.
“Measures included in that plan improve the safety on our roadways, specifically related to snow machines and off-highway vehicles,” he said.
Fox says FAST planning is preparing a comment letter on the state proposal. Professor Belz suggests the state form a stakeholder group to look at the issue. Comments are being accepted on the proposal by the Department of Administration until April 15th and by the Department of Public Safety until April 18th
The DPS proposed regulations are open for public comment until April 18, 2021:
The DOA proposed regulations are open for public comment until April 15, 2021: