Our view: Motorists, ATV/UTV riders urged to share the road safely

With Waterloo allowing all-terrain vehicles (ATV) and utility-terrain vehicles (UTV) on city streets, motorists are urged to stay attentive, patient and safe.

ATV/UTV registration grew 19 percent over the past five years, totaling 396,611 at the end of 2018, according to the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR). Motorists and riders are sharing the road more frequently in some areas, including the city of Waterloo and surrounding towns. State law allows municipalities to authorize ATV/UTV use on roadways with speed limits of 35 mph or less.

Marshall officials have not yet addressed the use of ATV/UTVs on village streets.

“ATVs, UTVs, cars and trucks offer different driving experiences, but one factor holds consistently true, no matter what you drive, even a momentary distraction can create a tragedy,” Wisconsin Department of Transportation (WisDOT) Secretary-Designee Craig Thompson said. “It’s important that we all look out for one another.”

The WisDOT published a website for riders and local officials who are interested in learning more about the law changes and requirements to establish ATV routes within their jurisdiction.

The website also contains a downloadable flier for anyone who would like to encourage motorists and riders to share the road.

The DNR publishes additional resources to assist ATV and UTV riders with safety courses, vehicle registration and knowledge of the law.

“Whether you are behind the wheel or behind a set of handlebars, think safety,” DNR Recreation Safety and Outdoor Skills Captain April Dobrowski, said. “ATV/UTV riding is among our state’s favorite recreational activities in the summer months. Whether you are riding for work or for fun, stay safe and be responsible.”

Safety tips for motorists:

• Watch for riders. Always eliminate distractions. Be patient and stay focused.

• When you approach an ATV/UTV on the road, slow down and be patient for a safe opportunity to pass.

• As ATV/UTVs are much wider than bicycle or motorcycle, motorists are likely to require space from the opposing travel lane while passing,

• Keep an eye out for ATV route signs and remember the law allows postings at territorial boundaries so motorists may not see additional signage along individual roads.

Safety tips for ATV/UTV riders:

• Stick to authorized areas. Most highways and roads statewide remain off limits. Check for ATV/UTV route sings or with local authorities to see if certain highways and roads are legally open.

• Travel at an appropriate speed and remain aware of your surroundings.

• Consider wearing high-visibility gear. As some drivers might not expect to be sharing the road with an ATV/UTV, it can help to be seen from afar.

• Riders are required to operate headlights when on or around roadways.

• Helmets and protective gear save lives and are highly encouraged for everyone, but also are a legal obligation for riders and passengers under 18 with limited exceptions.

• All UTV riders and passengers must have seatbelts fastened at all times.

• It is illegal for passengers to sit anywhere not specifically designed or intended for passenger use.

• Never consume alcohol or drugs before or during ATV/UTV operation.

Remember, ATV/UTV riders have the right to be on city streets in Waterloo, just like bicyclists and motorists.

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