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Officials In Southern Ky. Consider Allowing ATV's On Roads

LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) - Officials in a southern Kentucky community
are considering a proposal that would make it legal to ride
all-terrain vehicles on county roads.
The Wayne County Fiscal Court took up the measure after a
magistrate submitted a petition signed by a few hundred people,
Judge-Executive Greg Rankin said.
Under the proposal, ATVs could be ridden on county roads by
those with valid driver's licenses. Vehicles would be required to
have a headlight and two taillights, and could be operated only
during daylight hours. The proposal could be up for a vote by Aug.
9, Rankin said.
Kentucky law essentially bans ATVs from paved roads, but the law
contains a provision that allows cities or counties to designate
roads within their jurisdictions for legal ATV riding.
Officials at the Kentucky Association of Counties and the
Kentucky County Judge Executive Association said they didn't know
of any other counties that have attempted to open roads to ATV
riders.
Some Kentucky injury-prevention authorities say it would be
risky to let ATV riders use paved roads. The machines are designed
for rough terrain and could become unstable on smooth pavement.
"They're really not suitable for riding on pavement," said
Robert McCool, who works on safety programs at the Kentucky Center
for Injury Prevention and Research. "They have a suspension that
is fairly bouncy, and a certain inherent instability that makes
them easier to control off the road. But when you get on pavement,
those same characteristics mean that if you hit a pothole at 45 or
50 miles per hour, the machine can become unbalanced and flip."
At least 17 people have died in ATV crashes in Kentucky this
year, according to Kentucky State Police. Kentucky consistently
ranks among the top states in the nation for ATV-related
fatalities.
In rural Kentucky, however, many residents now routinely use
ATVs for short trips to the store or to visit a friend.
Wayne County, on the Kentucky-Tennessee border, draws ATV riders
who come to enjoy an extensive network of off-road trails in the
southern end of the county. Many of the riders are among those
seeking to have county roads opened open to ATVs, Rankin said.
"If you know the trails down there, you can go for miles and
miles," he said. "A lot of the push for this ordinance is coming
from folks who want to be able to get on the roads and ride from
one trailhead to another."
Charles Newcomb, who opposes the ordinance, said he's concerned
with safety issues and whether the measure could be enforced if it
is passed.
"We already have unlicensed, underage kids riding these things
up and down the roads now," he said.
Rankin acknowledged that ATVs "definitely are dangerous if they
are not handled properly. It's a tough subject."
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Information from: Lexington Herald-Leader,
http://www.kentucky.com

(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)


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