Start your engines: ATVs to be allowed on many state roads on Jan. 1 - Must Read Alaska
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Start your engines: ATVs to be allowed on many state roads on Jan. 1

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At midnight on Jan. 1, 2022, Alaskans will be able to legally drive their all-terrain vehicles on many of the state’s roads, as a new regulation, signed by Lt. Gov. Kevin Meyer, goes into effect.

Roads with speed limits of 45 mph or less, and in areas where ATVs are not otherwise banned by municipal governments, will be shared by standard vehicles, commercial vehicles, bicycles, and now ATVs.

ATVs must have certain safety features to be road-worthy, including a headlight, rear-facing red taillight, and a rear-facing red brake light. ATVs must have brakes, a muffler, carburetor and throttle. Drivers must have drivers licenses and insurance. Passengers must wear helmets. Young children must be in carseats and helmeted. If seatbelts are installed, they must be used. Snow machines are not included in the new regulations for on-road travel.

Anchorage is one location where ATVs are not permitted on the roads, because municipal rules apply, and prohibit them. In places like Bethel, however, several roads will be open to ATVs, including Chief Eddie Hoffman Highway, which stretches from the airport to downtown, First Avenue, BIA Road, Standard Oil Road, Front Street, and Hangar Lake Road.

Craig Compeau, of Compeau’s Inc. in Fairbanks said it has been a record year in both snowmachine and ATV sales. People are spending more time outdoors because of Covid-19, he said.

“There are 11 other states that have ATV on-road laws,” said Compeau Most of them are western states, but Louisiana is one as well. “We’ve talked to law enforcement elsewhere and they are not seeing the problems that some people are worried about. You still have to be a licensed driver. Some of the states are making revenue by selling permits, so there’s a revenue source for the state, if you want.”

Compeau added, “If there is only one state out of the 50 that allows four-wheelers on the roads, it should be Alaska. It saves on wear-and-tear on gas on your main vehicle. These are all four-strokes and are clean driving, and they burn a teaspoon of gas compared with your regular vehicle.”

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Suzanne Downing had careers in business and journalism before serving as the Director of Faith and Community-based Initiatives for Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and returning to Alaska to serve as speechwriter for Gov. Sean Parnell. Born on the Oregon coast, she moved to Alaska in 1969.

Latest comments

  • Bad idea, period. People will die – many will be young folks flouting helmet, age, and licensing laws. Nothing personal Craig Compeau, but you stand to have a big boost in sales because of this. I’m all for freedom, but ATVs darting around larger vehicle traffic is a very bad mix. Keep ATVs off-road please.

    • And for the same reasons you give here, Rich, bicycles equally do NOT belong on roads with cars and other motorized vehicles, all the arrogant yet ignorant stupidity of traffic-clueless Anchorage bicyclists notwithstanding.

    • Believe it or not there are still people in this state who are willing to evaluate risk and make a decision for themselves.

      Not everyone wants to live in a world where everything is worth it just to save one more life.

      Am I going to drive my 500 pound wheeler on a road with a 6000 pound truck? Nope.

    • Rich Thorne, “I’m all for freedom, but”

      Governments are infamous for reducing the Freedom Salami one slice at a time…..

    • So, by your logic, you must be opposed to motorcycles and bicycles on roads as well.

      • Pedestrians too?

  • How are motorcycles and bike’s any different?
    People should be free to be stupid if they want.

    • He goes the shoulders of the roads, as if we didn’t spend enough on road maintenance as it is.

      Most Four wheelers don’t go 45mph. This is a bad idea at best.

    • “……..People should be free to be stupid if they want.”
      Well, whether they’re free or not, all evidence shows that there are plenty of stupid people out there. I’ve been seeing people racing about on the roads with atvs for years. No legal blessing is really needed to be stupid.

    • Not much. ATV riders will need to follow the rules of the road though. Brake lights, headlights, hand turn signals. They are more stable than a 2 wheel vehicle.

      • Do you sell them?????

        • No but I rode them. Lots. put over 5000 miles on one in 9 years.

          • That’s a shame, I prefer rides at the Alaska State Fair!

    • True, just ask Joe Biden!

  • Great, now they can take their ATV to the liquor store and the marijuana store. What could go wrong?

    • Exactly…and many times after they have already lost their car license due to the same substances!

  • Many Florida towns allow golf carts on public roads without the requirement set for ATVs on roads in Alaska. For example, Key Biscayne seems to have more golf carts than autos on its roads. Understand that golf carts and ATVs are not equivalent in many ways, but similar in other ways. What’s important is they both use public roads. The Florida situation works just fine and makes sense. No reason why it won’t work in Alaska.

    • The Villages has more golf carts than cars.

  • Been doing it in Europe for a long time.

    • Where in Europe? Ive been in France, Belgium, Spain, Portugal, Italy, Germany, England, Ireland, Greece, Austria and have never even seen an ATV.

      • Google it. I knew a guy in Germany that rode his Canam-800 20 miles everyday to work.

      • or hardly any cars for that matter……

  • The lack of responsibility in the society at large is almost unbelievable. Add to it anyone that benefits money wise to this and could care less about the consumer and you have a real recipe for disaster.
    Wonder how long it will be until some pot head high on loco weed pulls out from a pot shop on an ATV into a busy road and gets squashed by a huge pick-up with a snow-machine or ATV in the back on a lost highway to hell.

    • Probably just as long as it takes a motorcycle rider. Are you stereotyping here? Damn pot smoking hippy ATV riders lol.

      • Yes, I have seen a few killed on Alaskan highways. One time I was coming up to a stoplight and saw a guy fling through the air literally as he got hit from behind by a car. Next you will tell me ATV;s and Bikes are about freedom! Saw on the news the next day the guy was dead of course.

      • Stereotype is a made up word of the American Marxist to try to conceal the truth about people through observation and experience from many years of participant viewing and interactions.

        • No, it’s a way idiots use to classify people be it racism or any other ism they current use.

          • No isms truly exist my friend, except those parroted by dolts on the left. You are already living in the most free and lack of ism country in the world. Only thing left for you is imaginary kombiya.

          • ism’a are more contrived BS the left uses to brainwash with. No such things….

  • Dumber than dumb

    • or do you mean just dumber than a lib???

  • This the same fear mongering that happens where concealed carry is passed. Everyone is going to die.

  • I have been to Montana numerous times where ATVs are allowed with very similar rules and everyone assures me there are no more issues than with other modes of transportation. Maybe less. In all my times driving there I have seen no problems. Give it a chance before you jump to doom and gloom conclusions and predictions.

    • Montana had no speed limits before the 1990’s until they were forced to wise up and pass speed laws. See a few teens smashed up to smitherines and you might change your mind. But I doubt it.

      • There was a speed limit there. It was go as fast as you safely can. I was there!

        • Some thought safe was 150 mph…I was there too.

          • Yep. If they can drive that safely so be it.

          • I loved setting the CC on 100 on my way down to Great Falls.

      • Nope. Anybody who doesn’t believe racism is a thing is an idiot. It’s just a word
        Don’t fear words.

        • People don’t tend to like other tribes. This is still fact the world over and always will be. Look….we can.t even get along here Lands Sake!

          The fake work racist invented by the American Marxist is just a tool to divide and conquer.

  • There’s no reason ATV shouldn’t be on the roads already. Use common sense just like bike riding on main road (bicyclists on the main roads usually are slow and hold up traffic behind them, unlike an ATV which can go as fast as a moving car at normal speed) plus ATV can go into the trails when there’s one available. I’m assuming all the folks worrying are also Anchorage residents where riding an ATV isn’t even an option unless you have a trailer to haul your toys out of town.

  • They are public rights of way. As long as they obey the traffic laws, they should be allowed to use the ROW, just like other vehicles.

    • Ok, I have a old Northern Pacific Train engine a block long. Watch out in those round abouts folks….

  • Wondering if this is the proverbial ‘if you can’t beat them join them’ as in most, if not all of the communities where this is now going to be ‘legal’ , it has already been going on for years with zero enforcement of any restriction. More than a few times I have been behind or in front of an ATV on Palmer Fishhook which is 55 mph, and subdivision roads have always been used by ATV’s. Certainly a danger yes but what is so different from motorcycles?

  • First off anyone that drives an un-protected vehicle as big as you can afford in Alaska is short a few screws and bolts. When those pot shops called “Dispensaries” lololololo were opened I bought the biggest pick-up I could afford. Same with other folks I know.
    My calculated risk assessment of bike or ATV riding in Alaska is 0 and I am a born risk taker.
    I figure that at least a third of the population here on the road are impaired at any given time.
    That is one reason for a lot of head-ons and many close call side swipes. And one reason they are making valley roads for example 4 lane, not 2.

    • You lost me at big train engine. You sure you’re not smoking something?

  • Lots of talk about impaired driving…..by pot smoking hippies…yet alcohol still ranks as the highest drug of choice for the dui crowd. Same rules apply for the atv for dui offenders btw. Frankly rather have a impaired driver on an atv than driving a 1975 Buick. Also that atv on a 55mph road, still not legal. Its a fair law. Motorcycles, trikes all just as dangerous. A vw bug wont fair well against an F-350, should we outlaw them? If you want more laws governing your life, go to California. Alaska has become more restrictive as folks run from oppressive States move here, but bring the stupidity here. Go back if you dont like it how you found it.

    • Ignorance makes new laws inevitable!
      I’m totally for the 2nd.
      But there are still a lot of gun nuts in Ak that have and will cause more restrictions. Gun nuts don’t get a pass.
      Same with slob hunters and shoot em’ ups who still think this is the last frontier.
      All too many come here and bring the stupidity, that is a given.
      Freedom is in the mind, not an ATV or a gun!

  • I have a family who rides 4 wheelers to give the kids some fun without drugs. We pick up trash when we go riding and see it as a gateway to healthy recreational activities. We have ATV’s that aren’t used everyday; wouldn’t the teens be more protected and visible on their way to work on a street legal ATV than riding a bike on roads that don’t have bike trails?

  • I’m all for this except I think it should be just like dirt bikes. Dirt bikes are required to have mirrors, headlights, brake lights, and turn signals and they have to be licensed. That is how I think this should be done. If you don’t like it in your town, pass an ordinance against it. But the state shouldn’t be standing in the way of the people of Willow, for instance, from being able to license their street legal sxs and go to the general store with it. All of the rural states have been allowing this for some time. It’s really not a big deal and it won’t be much different than what you already see in places like Wasilla. If they have to be licensed and street legal, like I mentioned, they are going to be better drivers than what you see in Wasilla.

    I actually think Anchorage should allow this as well on roads that are less than 45mph as long as the vehicle is street legal, as I mentioned before, but that’s really wishful thinking on my part, partly because I really want to get a 4×4 Japanese Mini Truck and use it to cruise around town.

    The argument that this will allow more drunk driving somehow because people will go to the liquor store with their atv’s is a shallow argument for me. People already do that and they do it to get out of a DUI, thinking they can stay off the roads on their way back and cops don’t pull over people on a swerving atv. Now that they are legal, they can get a dui, if indeed drunk or high, just like in any other vehicle. I think if you see it in the effect, like I have in Wyoming, you’ll see that it really isn’t a big deal. And if a person is being a jerk on an atv, that’s because that person is a jerk, not because the state allows them on the road system and that person can and should get a ticket.

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