To the editor:
I am writing this letter to voice my opposition to the proposed ATV ordinance that will allow off-road vehicles to use paved county roads. As an employee of Decker Truck Line, I am especially concerned about the use of County Road P-59. This road is one of the busiest entry and exit roads in and out of Fort Dodge. As I look out my office window I can see a steady stream of cars, trucks and semis that use P-59. This is a very high-traveled road.
It is the responsibility of our elected supervisors to oversee the operation of our county’s departments. They are the “board of directors” of Webster County. Keeping our county’s citizens and guests safe should be a primary responsibility of our county Board of Supervisors. They were elected to represent the best interests of the county as a whole, not a small fraction of just the ATV enthusiasts.
The following points are ATV “facts” according to an October 2017 study by Iowa State University:
1) ATVs are NOT designed for on-road use. As a result, they are exempt from national safety standards that apply to on-road vehicles. Most ATVs do not have safety features such as horns, brake lights, reflectors, turn signals, mirrors and windshields.
2) ATVs also lack advanced safety features such as airbags, traction control and anti-lock brakes.
3) Most ATVs have a narrow wheel base and high center of gravity and are more prone to rollover accidents.
4) ATV tires and suspensions are usually designed to operate in soft dirt. When used on firm surfaces, such as paved roads, grip is inconsistent and unpredictable. Loss of control can occur with little or no warning to the operator. Surface irregularities such as potholes increase the risk.
5) The US Consumer Product Safety Commission requires that all ATVs sold in the USA to include a “NEVER USE ON PUBLIC ROADS” warning label.
6) ATV manufacturers strongly oppose on-road use of their machines.
7) Although ATV users are warned against on-road use, about two-thirds of fatal ATV collisions involve the ATV hitting or being hit by a highway vehicle; usually one that DID NOT SEE the ATV.
In addition to the October 2017 study referenced above, it is also reported by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration that 39 percent of ATVs operators nvolved in fatal crashes were legally alcohol impared.
I could go on and on with additional statistical data and reports. However, the bottom line is the use of ATVs on paved county roads is dangerous to the motoring public and to the ATV driver. A much safer solution for motorists driving in Webster County would be to have ATVs use an off-highway vehicle park. I believe the existing Gypsum City Off-Highway Vehicle Park would be the perfect place for ATV lovers to ride their machines. Using taxpayer supported hard surfaced roads is not the answer.
Timothy J. Burns
Chief financial officer
Decker Truck Line Inc.