Answering some recent questions about the use of ATVs on Kewaunee County roads
Over the past few years I have written articles regarding first the consideration of ATV (all-terrain vehicle) use on local roadways, then the development of a county ordinance for the purpose of enforcement, and more recently an update on the passage of such ordinances by local towns, cities and villages.
This week, I want to address some of the questions and concerns I have received in the past few weeks, because more and more people are making use of local roads due to the implementation of local ordinances authorizing operation of ATVs on public roadways.
First, let’s go over what roads are involved when a community passes such an ordinance.
If a town, city or village authorizes the use of ATVs on their roads, then all of their respective town, city or village roads are able to be traveled with these units.
In addition, if a county or state road runs through that community and those sections of road are posted with a speed limit of 35 mph or less, they, too, are authorized for use by ATVs. Once those county or state roads leave that jurisdiction, or their posted speed limits elevate above 35 mph, those roads are no longer authorized.
It is also important to note that for any section of road to be authorized, those roads must first be posted by that local authority with signage indicating such authorization.
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Some of the most frequent questions I get are from residents who live on a state or county road and want to travel on those roads to get to a town road. This is not authorized unless those sections of roads are posted for less than 35 mph.
Another question I receive is related to legal age of ATV operation.
By state law, you can operate an ATV at the age of 12 on private property and local trails. However, in creating safety parameters within the local ordinances, the minimum age for operation on an authorized public roadway was set at 16 with a valid driver’s license. Aside from the obvious concerns surrounding the operation of an ATV on a roadway shared with motor vehicles, the other concern is that of those who do not qualify for a license could use these ordinances as a way to circumvent the law.
Just as is the case with equipment on motor vehicles, there are also requirements related to the equipment of ATVs operating on the roads.
The main one, of course, is the requirement to wear a helmet, but there also is the requirement of an unmodified, functioning exhaust. We did not want to create an environment where modified units are able to disrupt the tranquility of our communities.
I want to thank those communities who have embarked on this endeavor to allow these units on their roads. While I will be the first to acknowledge that such co-mingling of recreational vehicles with standard motor vehicles is not my ideal public safety traffic environment, we can be proud that we created consistent and common-sense criteria surrounding such use throughout Kewaunee County.
Matt Joski is Kewaunee County Sheriff.
This article originally appeared on Green Bay Press-Gazette: Answering some recent questions about the use of ATVs on Kewaunee County roads