The sun sets on a backroad near Kalifornsky Beach Road on Dec. 21, 2021. New regulations allowing all-purpose vehicles on some roads go into effect Jan. 1, 2022. (Photo by Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)

The sun sets on a backroad near Kalifornsky Beach Road on Dec. 21, 2021. New regulations allowing all-purpose vehicles on some roads go into effect Jan. 1, 2022. (Photo by Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)

New rules kick in for all-purpose vehicles Saturday

ATVS, other all-purpose vehicles allowed on certain roads starting Jan. 1.

A new state policy allowing all-purpose vehicles on some public roads goes into effect Saturday.

The policy, announced by Gov. Mike Dunleavy, applies to public roads with speed limits of 45 mph unless otherwise prohibited by municipalities, which can opt-out of the relaxed rules.

Even with the new state policy in place, all-purpose vehicles will continue to be prohibited on all roads within the city limits of Kenai and Soldotna. Kenai Peninsula Borough Attorney Sean Kelley told the Clarion last month that the borough does not restrict the use of all-purpose vehicles on public roads, as the borough does not have criminal law enforcement or police protection powers.

The regulations drew safety concerns when first proposed earlier this year, but were give the final green light in October.

Soldotna City Manager Stephanie Queen said Wednesday that people operating all-purpose vehicles near Soldotna’s urban areas are encouraged to be cautious. Once the policy goes into effect, she said, the city will have a better understanding of how many people are taking advantage of the change and whether further action is needed on the city’s part.

“We’re all just going to learn the demand,” Queen said Wednesday.

The State of Alaska defines all-purpose vehicles as any self-propelled device that is on wheels or tracks that come in contact with the ground, such as four-wheelers, all terrain vehicles, utility terrain vehicles or side-by-sides. Snowmachines and hovercrafts are still prohibited under the new regulations.

Anyone operating an all-purpose vehicle is required to have a valid driver’s license, standard motor vehicle registration for the vehicle, front and rear license plates and insurance. Additionally, all vehicles must have a headlight, one rear-facing red light, one rear-facing red reflector and one rear-facing red brake light. The vehicle must also have brakes, a muffler, a carburetor and a throttle.

Like other vehicles, all-purpose vehicles are required to follow all traffic laws and can be pulled over by an Alaska State Trooper or local police officer. Drivers will not be required to wear helmets while operating all-purpose vehicles, but passengers will. If the vehicle has seat belts, all riders will be required to wear them.

Reach reporter Ashlyn O’Hara at ashlyn.ohara@peninsulaclarion.com.

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