Iowa legislators to mull allowing ATVs on secondary roads

Publish Date: 
Oct 28, 2013

DES MOINES, Iowa - A committee of five senators and five representatives will meet at 10 a.m. Oct. 28 in the Capitol to discuss a proposal to let ATVs onto secondary roads in the state.

Off-road enthusiasts will make their case to the panel for consideration. The proposal, as House File 619, got as far as a 75-22 vote to approve in the Iowa House last spring, but stalled in the Senate Ways and Means Committee after its chairman raised safety concerns over ATVs using gravel or hard-surfaced roads.

Support for the plan is coming from tourism promoters, ATV riders and businesses that cater to them as well as the manufacturers. Among those scheduled to speak Monday are the owner of an off-road vehicle park and representatives of ATV manufacturers.

“I think the (interim) committee will look at what would be a way to provide more opportunities for ATV riders to get out and experience the beauty of Iowa,” Senate Transportation Committee Chairman Tod Bowman told The Gazette. The committee must weigh recreation and revenue against safety.

“I understand people are passionate about the values and freedoms Iowans enjoy,” Brain Injury Alliance of Iowa spokesman Geoffrey Lauer said, but most ATVs carry a sticker stating the three- and four-wheel vehicles are not designed to be road safe. The center of gravity is too high and the tires are for off-road surfaces. Ignoring basic public safety by allowing ATVs to share the roads with all other vehicles is a recipe for a significant uptick in injuries, severe injuries, and death.” 

Posted by Holly Wagner