During July's council meeting, Park Hills City Council passed an ordinance regarding the use of utility vehicles (UTV) and all-terrain vehicles (ATV) on city streets.
The ordinance defines UTVs as any motorized vehicle manufactured and used exclusively for off-road use which is more than 50 inches and no more than 67 inches in width. UTVs are also defined as having a dry weight of 2,000 pounds or less with four or six wheels.
ATVs are defined by the ordinance as any motor vehicle manufactured exclusively for off-highway use and 50 inches or less in width with a dry weight of 1,500 pounds or less traveling on three, four, or more non-highway tires.
Beginning on Jan. 1 next year, operators of such vehicles will be required to register for a special permit issued by the city. A current permit issued by the city must be affixed to the vehicle and in a visible location prior to operation of the vehicle on city streets.
The permit will be issued at a cost of $15 and in order to obtain the permit, vehicle operators must provide proof of financial responsibility in the same manner as is required for regular vehicles or any other insurance policy providing equivalent liability coverage.
All regular rules of the road apply to these vehicles. Operators of these type of vehicles must also obtain a valid operator’s or chauffeur’s license under the new ordinance.
The vehicles also must have functioning headlights, tail lights, brake lights, and turn signals which will be required to be in working order and used while operating the off-road vehicles at any time one-half hour after sunset to one-half hour before sunrise.
Vehicle safety flags which extend not less than seven feet above the ground will also need to be attached to the rear of the vehicles. The safety flag must be triangular in shape with an area no less than 30 square inches and will be required to be a “Day-Glo” color, such as neon orange, much like the safety flags required when operating these vehicles within St. Joe State Park.
Additionally, operators of ATVs must also wear a helmet if the rider is under the age of 18.
The permits issued by the city will be valid for one year and will need to be renewed on the first of each year.
City Administrator Mark McFarland said the goal with this ordinance is not to keep people from using these type of vehicles or limit their ability to operate them but instead it’s a measure to ensure that the vehicles have insurance and are being operated in a safe manner.
The proposal for this ordinance was brought up in a city council work session two months ago after a few members of the council had noticed people operating the vehicles in unsafe manners.
“One councilman said he witnessed a UTV with a flatbed on the back and several young children riding in the flatbed,” said McFarland. “None of the children were wearing safety devices and it really concerned the councilman.”
The ordinance passed unanimously among the council members with Councilman Alan Coleman making the first motion in favor of the measure and Councilman Larry LaChance making the second motion.
The new regulations will be enforced beginning the first day of the coming year.