Legalize UTV/SXS in Festus, MO
The popularity of these vehicles has exploded in recent years and there are many people who would benefit from being able to legally operate them on city and county roadways. These benefits are not just limited to the operators of these vehicles. There are many reasons why this would be beneficial to both the owners of these vehicles as well as the other citizens of the communities within our state.
The recent surges in fuel costs are one of the big reasons for this petition, whereas many people would choose the use of side by sides and UTV's to save fuel, much in the same way that many people choose to ride motorcycles to save fuel. These vehicles do not burn as much fuel as full size cars and trucks do, so this would benefit both the users of these vehicles as well as non-users by decreasing demand for fuel. This decrease in demand can help promote lower prices at the pump for all consumers. Also, many people have to trailer their vehicle to other areas of the county to ride for recreation and this actually increases the consumption of fuel by having to have a vehicle, usually a large truck or SUV, to pull a trailer to the chosen location. This consumes much more fuel than if they were able to drive to the location in the vehicle itself. This also can create safety hazards for users as well as non-users both in the possibility of items, including the vehicles themselves, coming loose or falling off of trailers into the roadway and in the fact that the vehicle and trailer are often parked along the side of roadways at the location. This can create congestion and a potential for impact or injury to other motorists as well. Also, unlike motorcycles and Mopeds, these vehicles could be used year-round with the proper enclosures and equipment. This increases this benefit substantially, especially during the winter hunting seasons in our area.
While on the subject of safety, another reason these vehicles should be allowed to operate on city and county roads is that while these vehicles are smaller than regular cars and trucks, they are much larger than motorcycles and mopeds, and therefore making them more visible to other drivers. This increases safety for both users and non-users. These vehicles are much safer than motorcycles and mopeds, both of which are legal to operate on public roads, due to this fact and the fact that some have full roll cages and seat belts. If people were used to seeing these vehicles on the road, they would also be less likely to ignore them. Being able to legally operate them on the road would also decrease reckless activities associated with illegally operating them on roadways such as speeding, darting across roadways, and driving through other people's property because users would not have to try to avoid the authorities. Also, there are a lot of people who cannot or will not ride motorcycles or mopeds, but who could have the same advantages and benefits as motorcycle/moped users through the ability to legally drive their side by side or UTV on county roads.
These vehicles are also more Eco-friendly than regular cars and trucks in that they are still required to meet EPA regulations, and they have significantly smaller engines that do not put out anywhere near the total amount of hazardous materials into the atmosphere that full size vehicles do. Once again, this benefits not only those operating these vehicles, but those that don't as well.
While the reasons above may not always be immediately apparent, there is another reason that could be of immediate benefit to all of the communities in the county, and that is a monetary benefit. The use of these vehicles on roadways could be regulated using registration stickers or plates which would have to be purchased through the county or other governing body so designated. There could be a yearly fee for this registration just as with other motor vehicles that would go directly to the county and put to immediate use in whatever way they feel would benefit the community most. The use of these vehicles would also have certain regulations and requirements that would have to be met to be legally operated, and failure to follow these guidelines would have the same penalties as failure to adhere to other vehicle regulations and guidelines, and that could also potentially benefit the county in money collected from these offenses. We feel that the basic requirements for operating on public roads for the safety of all motorists would include the following:
1. Headlights, visible from at least 500 feet
2. Taillights, visible from at least 300 feet
3. Turn signals, visible from at least 200 feet ahead of and behind the vehicle
4. Eye protection for driver and passengers, either windshield, or glasses
5. Seatbelts for all occupants and at least one rear view mirror
6. Must maintain the same minimum and maximum speed limits as all other vehicles
7. Must maintain the same insurance requirements as all other vehicles
8. Must obey all traffic laws the same as all other vehicles
Other monetary benefits would come in the form of increased sales of these vehicles just for the fact that they would be able to be operated on public roads. Many people would probably like to have one of these vehicles but cannot afford to also buy the trailer and trailer pulling vehicle if they do not have anywhere to ride on their own property. Once again, this could benefit the local community in increased revenues from the taxes collected on these increased sales. There are already several communities around the country that have seen the importance and benefits of allowing these vehicles to be legally operated on public roadways. Several other states have legalized regulated use of them on public roads throughout the entire state including Arizona, Idaho, Indiana, Minnesota, Kansas, Montana, North Dakota, and South Dakota. There very well may be others as many states are deliberating this very idea at the moment.
In summary, there would be several benefits to approving the use of side by sides and UTV's on public roads within the city and counties, and very few, if any, negative impacts from approving the use of them. What we are proposing is not an "open season" for all ATV's, and it should not be viewed that way. Driving is a privilege, not a right, regardless of the vehicle, and we are simply requesting that you consider approving the use of these safe, alternative forms of transportation on all public roads within the county, in a regulated and controlled manner, to benefit both the operators of these vehicles as well as the community overall. We appreciate your time and consideration of this matter.