Dubuque County committee members honed in on safety measures as they continue work to craft an ordinance for ATVs and UTVs to operate on county roadways.
Committee members July 29 reviewed a draft of a possible ordinance for the first time. Some of the about 30 citizens who attended the meeting also had the chance to give their input.
Early in their meeting, committee members spent time debating which safety equipment should be required for all-terrain and utility vehicles and their occupants.
Committee members agreed initially to require ATVs and UTVs to have turn signals. They said the vehicles should be required to have either rearview or side mirrors.
They also agreed to require that the vehicles have their headlights and taillights on at all times.
“I don’t think that’s a hardship because you’re supposed to have operating headlights to be out there,” County Supervisor Dave Baker said.
County officials also discussed whether to require ATVs and UTVs to display a slow-moving-vehicle sign.
County Attorney C.J. May III reported that he interpreted state code as saying such signs would be required based on the speed at which the vehicles would travel.
Baker said if that is the case, the county would need to make it a requirement.
However, he expressed skepticism that such signs would be required for ATVs and UTVs.
“There’s a lot of agricultural-use ATVs and UTVs out there, and I think I can count on one hand the slow-moving-vehicles signs I see on those,” he said.
During that part of the discussion, committee members agreed to take public comments.
Kyle Kelchen, of Epworth, said he was frustrated by the number of requirements being considered for ATV and UTV users.
“You’re requiring more of us than the bicycles and the motorcycles and the farm equipment,” he said. “... Why are you being so difficult and so far against this?”
County Supervisor Ann McDonough said committee members are doing the best they can, given state code and considering ordinances that other communities have created.
Baker asked May to look further into the state requirements for vehicle signage.
Committee members also agreed not to require ATV and UTV operators to wear helmets.
“I think it’s an overreach,” Baker said. “It’s not required under the (state) code. Motorcycles move faster than these, and they do not have to wear a helmet in the state of Iowa.”
Members also initially agreed not to require drivers to take an Iowa Department of Natural Resources education course. County Recorder John Murphy said officials instead could waive county user fees for drivers who choose to take the course.
Members also agreed not to require that ATVs and UTVs be inspected, noting that it would be logistically difficult for local law enforcement. However, they discussed creating a checklist for operators to ensure they have all of the required equipment.
Baker said law enforcement would be able to inspect vehicles if a traffic stop occurs.
“Right now, no other vehicles are subject to automatic inspections,” he said.