DNR reminding motorists, ATV/UTV operators to share trails, roadways safely

For the Tomahawk Leader

WISCONSIN – The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is reminding all-terrain (ATV) and utility-terrain vehicles (UTV) operators and motorists to safely share trails and roads as summer begins.

“Sharing these popular routes is a shared responsibility between ATV/UTV drivers and other motorists,” DNR stated. “In 2022, there were 92 ATV/UTV crashes on public roads and routes in Wisconsin, with 11 resulting in a fatality.”

DNR said motorists have seen more ATVs and UTVs on the roads since 2018, when a law began allowing local communities to designate local roads with posted speed limits of 35 miles per hour or slower as permissible routes for multi-terrain machines to use. 

DNR offered the following safety tips for motorists:

  • When you approach ATV/UTVs on the road, slow down and be patient for a safe opportunity to pass. As ATV/UTVs are much wider than bicycles or motorcycles. Motorists will need to ensure they can achieve a wide berth that many times can extend into an oncoming traffic lane.
  • Keep an eye out for ATV/UTV route postings.
  • The law allows postings at territorial boundaries, so motorists might not see additional signage along individual roads.
  • Watch for riders, stay off your phone and avoid other distractions.

Safety tips for ATV/UTV riders:

  • If riding on a road, stick to authorized areas. Most highways and roads statewide remain off-limits. Check for posted signs or with local authorities to see if certain highways and roads are legally open. Always follow the posted speed limits. 
  • When on a trail, make sure you stay to the right, respect others on the trail and stop at all stop signs. 
  • Travel at an appropriate speed and stay aware of your surroundings.
  • Stay as visible as possible, as some drivers might not expect to be sharing the road with ATVs.
  • Riders are required to operate headlight(s) when on or around roadways.
  • Wearing a helmet is always the best idea for riders of all ages. 
  • If you are in a UTV, wear your seatbelt. 
  • Never consume alcohol or drugs before or during ATV and UTV operation.
  • If you were born after Jan. 1, 1988, make sure you have taken an ATV safety course (www.tinyurl.com/mr432zwb). It’s your license to operate on routes or trails. 

To learn more about ATV/UTV safety, visit www.dnr.wisconsin.gov/topic/atv.

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