Road Use Regulation Roundup – October 2015

The following is a summary of some of the road use regulations for golf cars, LSVs, ATVs and UTVs that has been passed or is being considered at the state, county and city levels since July 2015. Some trends in this latest regulation roundup:

  • Many of the ordinances cover the use of golf cars, UTVs and ATVs on public roads while others only involve UTVs and ATVs. Few involve LSVs or NEVs.
  • In many instances the impetus for the regulations started with local residents approaching local council members or city managers.
  • Regulatory activity is happening primarily at the town or city level, but there is some action at the county and state or provincial level as well.
  • While most of the regulations are in favor of allowing public road use, there is still some resistance from those with safety concerns.

Parsons, KS – The local police chief is pushing for a change in utility vehicle registration rules because of safety concerns arising from utility vehicles being used on local roads. Vehicles such as the Polaris Razor are considered by city staff as worksite utility vehicles, which are legal under an ordinance approved in 2009 as long as they are tagged by the police department after passing a safety inspection. Utility vehicles have been seen on roads where they are not allowed.

Gallipolis, OH – Increased interest in golf cars from residents is driving the city commission to discuss their use on city streets. The city manager notes that they have to be registered to be used on the streets and need turn signals, headlights, brake lights, a license plate, and rear view mirrors.

Houston, TX – The city of Houston passed an ordinance allowing the use of golf cars and utility vehicles on city streets as long as the driver is licensed and insured and the vehicle is registered with the police.

New Braunfels, TX – Driven by increased resident interest and use, the city council is looking at the legality of using golf cars on local streets for trips beyond going to and from golf courses. They are also looking on which streets can golf cars and NEVs be legally driven.

Lynchburg, VA – Local colleges presented a draft ordinance to the city government that would allow the colleges to drive golf cars and utility vehicles on certain local roads near their campuses. There are some safety concerns being raised by council members.

Chillicothe, IL – The city council, in response to a petition, is considering the use of UTVs on public roads but there is significant opposition on the council because of concerns about safety and what type of vehicles would be included by an ordinance. The town already allows golf cars but some feel the regulations are not clear on what is lawful or not.

Osawatomie, KS – The city council is considering an ordinance allowing golf cars and special-purpose vehicles such as UTVs, ATVs and micro-trucks on city streets. Golf carts would be limited to daylight hours, and ATVs would be required to be equipped with lights and reflectors as required for motorcycles. Work-site utility vehicles also would be required to be equipped with lights and reflectors as required for motor vehicles.

Benton County, IA – County supervisors are considering an ordinance that would allow UTVs and ATVs on certain county roads. The rule would set a 40-mph speed limit, require both the drivers and the vehicles to be properly licensed, and prohibit anyone from under age 16 from using county roadways.

Clay County, IA – County supervisors have passed an ordinance that would allow the use of ATVs and UTVs on county roads. Residents who would like to use their all-terrain and off-road utility vehicles on county roads must have a valid driver’s license, proof of insurance and have their vehicle registered with the Department of Natural Resources through the Clay County recorder.

Surprise, AZ – The city is reconsidering their plans to have NEV and bike lanes on Bullard Avenue. The four-lane stretch of road was reduced to two and the other two lanes were used to create a combination of bicycle and NEV lanes, in part to create traffic calming for the three school zones along the road. However, backlash from residents has the city rethinking the plan.

Wasaga Beach, Ontario – The city council has passed an ordinance allowing ATVs and UTVs to be driven on the shoulder of municipal roads from April through November. Riders will have to be insured, helmeted and have a licensed vehicle. The speed limit will be 20 km/hr for the vehicles and they cannot be driven on the beach.

Nashville, TN – A lawsuit stemming from a golf car overturning is prompting the local licensing commission to review the safety of low-speed vehicles. The golf car belonged to the Joyride taxi service and the driver had two prior DUIs and numerous traffic violations.

Milford Village, IL – The village board voted to ban golf cars and low speed vehicles within town limits.

Quebec, Canada – The provincial government wants to allow LSVs on public roads as part of a five year plan to have 100,000 electric and hybrid vehicles on the road by 2020.

Des Moines, IA – The Des Moine Register published an editorial against allowing ATVs and UTVs to be used on public roadways. Pointing to on-road crash statistics for the vehicles as well as statements from a number of safety related organizations, the editorial takes the position that the vehicles are unsafe when operated on local roads. The editorial is in response to a growing number of laws at the municipal level that allow ATV use on roads. Similar legislation at the state level has failed to pass.


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