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Editorial: Alternative vehicles

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Marble Hill, Mo., like many small communities in this section of the state, is considering allowing its residents to operate utility vehicles within the city limits.

The proposal would require a $15 licensing fee for vehicles such as golf carts, four-wheelers and other motorized vehicles that operate with the use of a steering column.

This is a sign of the times. With gas prices hampering low- and middle-income families, cities are trying to find ways to save their residents some money on gasoline costs.

In Marble Hill, the matter is still being debated.

There are safety concerns with this type of vehicle use, however. Before driving an ATV within the city limits, it's important that drivers are aware of the laws that exist and also what their insurance will cover. Insurance companies may not cover ATV accidents that happen on public roads and streets.


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According to Wednesday's Banner Press article this was tabled indefinitely, because state law does not allow these vehicles on public roads. The State Patrol advised the Prosecuting Attorney that even if the ordinance passed, they would issue tickets to those who violated the state law.

Some residents are confused, thinking that the State Patrol has no such jurisdiction on roads which are not state-owned. Does anyone know the answer to this?

-- Posted by gurusmom on Sat, Aug 23, 2008, at 1:32 PM

Gurusmom,

Missouri Statute 304-013 specifically allows for the governing bodies of cities and counties to allow the use, by permit of an ATV on city and county roadways, but there is no provision in law to allow their general use on state roadways though they can be used in specific instances such as for agricultural purposes, by handicapped for short distances at set time and when owned by governing bodies for official use. There is no statutory provision for allowing the use of other types of vehicles. Cities can only enact ordinances that comply with the authority given to them by statute. I am not a lawyer, so this is only my opinion.

-- Posted by Red_Rhino on Sat, Aug 23, 2008, at 6:58 PM

Guru's Mom:

You are correct, in our last scheduled meeting.City Attorney Steven Gray said that the state law that was supposed to legalize the use of utility vehicles never made it out of committee.

He was informed that even if we were to pass this ordinance that the State Patrol could still issue tickets to Marble Hill citizens, even if they purchased a permit from us.

The legislature does not reconvene again until January, and we don't want citizens purchasing permits from us, and possibly getting a ticket from a county or state law enforcement officer.

I keep seeing this subject pop up in the Southeast Missourian, and can't help but wonder why?

We are not "debating" the subject, the subject of utility vehicles or golf carts on Marble Hill streets is DEAD, at least until the next legislative session.

-- Posted by mobushwhacker on Sat, Aug 23, 2008, at 7:03 PM

Gurusmom,

I forgot, the MSHP can issue citations on any public roadway, but as a matter of course don't usually do so due to political considerations. Of course there are always exceptions such as when an Interstate Highway goes through a town or when it is a serious violation. Of course then someone writes in to Speak Out to complain that they are not doing their jobs. Not a Trooper, just know some.

-- Posted by Red_Rhino on Sat, Aug 23, 2008, at 7:07 PM

Legalities aside, is it safe for utility vehicles to operate on the same roadways as cars?

Anyone choosing to drive golf carts on the road should sign a statement taking full responsibility for the consequences.

-- Posted by Wisconsin on Sat, Aug 23, 2008, at 8:07 PM

Wisconsin,

I think a lot of that is dependent on the size of the city and traffic patterns. In the smaller towns with limited traffic there may not be a problem whereas in a larger one there would be safety concerns and problems with traffic congestion caused by the slower moving vehicles. ATV's, which have speeds of up to sixty miles per hour should pose no more of a risk than motorcycles. I am personally not a big proponent however as while I own two ATV's, they are not designed for use on paved roads and do not handle very well on such unless equipped with a locking, unlocking rear differential. I live in the country, so none of this affects me, so my opinion is pretty meaningless; just an observation.

When I lived in a small town, I walked most places; don't know why more people who are able don't.

-- Posted by Red_Rhino on Sat, Aug 23, 2008, at 8:22 PM

The ordinance was only going to allow "utility vehicles" and golf carts, not ATV's, which doesn't make a whole lot of sense to me, considering the fact that anyone can ride a "scooter" and not get ticketed.

-- Posted by mobushwhacker on Sat, Aug 23, 2008, at 9:02 PM

Red Rhino,

I agree (in general) that city size and traffic patterns are key considerations. And I believe --MOST-- drivers of full-size vehicles would be alert / aware of drivers of the utility vehicles.

I think you hit on the key point ... the relative slower speed of the utility vehicles. Combine that with the lower visiblity / profile of the utility vehicles and we have a dangerous combination. Somebody on a utility vehicle will get injured sooner or later ... and then they'll blame everyone but themselves.

How many people have seen a bicyclist on a busy major street? By law, he's entitled to the road just as much as full-size vehicles ... but that doesn't mean it's safe to do so. Personally, I think of it as "Darwin in Action" ... the herd is being culled of the stupid people.

With respect to people not walking any more, I believe it's because we live in an age of convenience ... and we're fat and lazy.

W

-- Posted by Wisconsin on Sat, Aug 23, 2008, at 11:09 PM


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