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Why Are Some Pushing to Legalize ATV Use On Public Roads?

August 17, 2016 | Category: ATV Accidents, Personal Injury | Share

ATV manufacturers, according to AP (Associated Press), say that the recreational vehicles are only designed for off-road use. Because of their high centers of gravity which allow them to roll easily when traveling on uneven ground, they are more apt to topple over at high speeds. Their low-pressure tires also make ATVs difficult to handle on paved, gravel or dirt roads.

There are warning labels included with ATVs which instruct riders never to operate on roadways, and the industry-backed Specialty Vehicle Institute of America calls for the prohibition of ATVs on public roads, except for the purpose of crossing them.

Why Are Some Pushign to Legalize ATV Use On Public Roads - Spivey Law Firm, Personal Injury Attorneys, P.A.

Kathy Van Kleeck, vice president of government relations for the Specialty Vehicle Industry Association warns, “ATVs should never be operated on paved or public roads. They don’t have on-road tires; they don’t have other lighting or turn signal equipment needed for on-highway riding.”

The Florida Highway Patrol (FHP) reported on July 18, 2016 that two women died in Lake City, Florida following a crash on 45th Road around 2:00 a.m. The two women were traveling with another woman who suffered minor injuries. The ATV recreational vehicle was traveling on a public road when the driver overcorrected on a turn. The FHP press release said that the ATV started to spin off the road, throwing the 30 and 32 year-olds off the vehicle. The ATV landed on top of them. in October 2015 described ATVs as being any number of three-or four-wheeled all motorized all terrain vehicles which come in different shapes and sizes and are manufactured for different uses including pit-vehicles, recreation, hunting, ranching, military, emergency services and industrial. Statistics show that between 2012 and 2015, an average of 228,000 ATVs have been sold in the U.S. each year.

What does the law say about ATV use?

While the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) regulates hazardous products and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) oversees traffic safety, neither of the federal agencies has authority over where people ride ATVs. State law typically governs the operation of vehicles on its public roads.

In Florida, an ATV, ROV (remotely operated vehicle) and OHM (off highway motorcycle) cannot be operated on a public road, street or highway. The only exception is that they may be operated on an unpaved public roadway where the posted speed limit is less than 35 miles per hour and only during daytime. ATV operators under 16 years of age must be supervised by a licensed driver. In addition to direct supervision, eye protection, over-the-ankle boots, and a safety helmet, those under 16 who want to operate the off-highway vehicle on a public land must also pass a safety course.

Why are some people pushing to legalize ATV use on public roads?

According to the Wall Street Journal:

  • One impetus for legalizing ATVs on public roads is tourism. Some people regard opening up public roads as a common-sense move that carries little risk and can spur desperately needed economic growth in rural areas by attracting riders and increasing vehicle sales. 
  • Many rural counties have opened up hundreds of miles of public roads as part of a push by ATV enthusiasts to access back-country trails without having to tow the vehicles there. 
  • Supporters of legalized road access report few safety issues, likening ATVs to motorcycles. 

“Spivey Law Firm, Personal Injury Attorneys, P.A. have the experienced team to handle ATV accident cases. Should you or a loved one be involved in an ATV accident, contact us to determine your rights,” said Fort Myers ATV Accident Attorney, Randall Spivey. 


Fort Myers ATV Accident Attorney, Randall L. Spivey is a Board Certified Trial Attorney – the highest recognition for competence bestowed by the Florida Bar and a distinction earned by just one (1%) percent of Florida attorneys. He has handled over 2,000 personal injury and wrongful death cases throughout Florida. For a free and confidential consultation to discuss your legal rights, contact the Spivey Law Firm, Personal Injury Attorneys, P.A., in Lee County at 239.337.7483 or toll free at 1.888.477.4839, or by email to Visit for more information. You can contact Spivey Law Firm, Personal Injury Attorneys, and Charlotte County at 941.764.7748 and in Collier County 239.793.7748.


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