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Florida ATV Law Changes

By: Erika Kurre
By: Erika Kurre

According to the US Consumer Product Safety Commission, there are more all-terrain vehicle-related deaths in Florida now than ever before.
And a new state law could make the matter even worse by allowing ATV's to be driven on county roads.
Those who voted for it say it will allow more flexibility for those living in rural areas.
But those opposed to it say off-road vehicles should stay "off the road."
As of October first, ATV's can legally take to unpaved Florida county roads.
The new law also allows the ATV's to only be driven during the day, under 35 miles per hour, and by licensed drivers or minors accompanied by a licensed driver.
But many automobile drivers are against sharing the roads with ATV's.
Florida District 7 Representative, Marti Coley says, "It's probably a safety issue--in my opinion. If they're present on the roads--I mean some of our dirt roads--let's take it, in our rural areas, they're heavily travelled. And so I would think it would be more of a safety issue than anything else."
And some county governments are even fighting against it.
A provision in the new law states that a majority vote can allow counties to opt out. And quite a few have already passed this exemption.
But in Jackson County, ATV's don't seem to pose much of a safety issue at all.
Representative Coley says she has only had one complaint about the law and Sheriff John McDaniel says there have been no ATV fatalities or even serious accidents on county roads in the past couple of years.
The only concern...is that might change.
"We've got 1,300 miles of dirt roads in Jackson County. And with 4-wheelers being legally on the roads at all times now, there is a possibility that the accidents will increase."
Still...there is no chance yet that Jackson County will choose to opt out
It's important to remember that ATV's can be safe when riding them according to the directions on the vehicle.
Also, there's another provision to the law that goes into effect July first, 2008.
It would require ATV drivers under 16 to pass a safety course.
There are some parts of the Florida law that did not change.
Riding ATV's on paved and levee roads, right-of-ways, private roads and agricultural land is still off-limits.


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