Bill allowing ATVs on Iowa's roadways losing momentum - KTTC Rochester, Austin, Mason City News, Weather and Sports

Bill allowing ATVs on Iowa's roadways losing momentum, sparking debate

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IOWA CITY (KWWL) -

A bill in the Iowa legislature looks to legalize the use of licensed all-terrain vehicles on county roads.

House file 619 overwhelmingly passed the house and now waits to be taken up by a Senate subcommittee.

State law does allow local governments to decide whether ATV's can be out on the roads.

Greg Kromminga, whose family-owned business sells ATVs, is an avid rider.

"There's nothing better than getting out in the countryside and going out in the boonies for a joyride," Kromminga said.

Kromminga is used to riding on rugged terrain. 

He believes riders should be allowed on the roadways as well.

"In order to get to rough terrain, you're probably going to have to get on smooth terrain," Kromminga said.

Kromminga's business is in Monticello, one of the few local governments that allows ATVs on roads.

Researchers say there are many misconceptions regarding the safety of these vehicles on streets.

University of Iowa doctor Charles Jennissen and researcher Gerene Denning have conducted extensive research on the topic.

They say more than 60 percent of ATV fatalities happen on the road.

"It is surprising because we know much of the riding is off the road," Denning said.

Denning and Jennissen say ATVS are designed for off-road with a narrower wheelbase, a higher clearance, and a tire-tread made for off-road riding.

That makeup can cause problems on smooth surfaces.

"You can turn and they will grip, and you will not be able to make that turn and so they rollover," Jennissen said.

In spite of the data, some feel it's an issue of personal freedom that doesn't warrant regulation.

"It'd be nice if everybody was responsible for their own actions, and we wouldn't have all those warning labels," Kromminga said. 

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