POINT PLEASANT — Point Pleasant City Council has passed the first of two required readings on an ordinance amendment to regulate the use and operation of golf carts, ATV’s and utility-terrain vehicles within the city.
City Attorney R.F. Stein presented council with a draft of the ordinance amendment, saying the city already had an ordinance regulating the use of ATV’s based on West Virginia State Code. The new amendment adds the operation of golf carts and utility-terrain vehicles into the existing ATV ordinance. Utility-terrain vehicles are defined as any motor vehicle with four or more low-pressure tires designed for off-highway use, having bench or bucket seating for each occupant and a steering wheel or similar steering device for control.
Council passed the first reading with the stipulation that it has the right to make some changes prior to the second reading and ultimate draft being presented. As it stands now, the amendment includes some of the following highlights:
No golf cart, ATV or utility-terrain vehicle can be operated in the city on any interstate highway except by public safety personnel responding to emergencies. For example, this would include vehicles being prohibited from using W.Va. 62, the main artery through Point Pleasant. Golf carts, ATV’s and utility-terrain vehicles also cannot be operated on any road or highway with a center line or more than two lanes except for the purpose of crossing the road, street or highway.
There are stipulations on these permitted crossings, including: if the crossing is made at an angle of approximately 90 degrees to the direction of the highway and at a place where no obstruction prevents a quick and safe crossing; if the vehicle is brought to a complete stop before crossing the shoulder of main traveled way of the highway; if the operator yields his or her right-of-way to all oncoming traffic that constitutes an immediate potential hazard; and if both the headlight and taillight are illuminated when the crossing is made if the vehicle is so equipped. These vehicles also cannot be operated any time from sunset to sunrise without an illuminated headlight or lights and taillights.
Also, golf carts, ATV’s and utility-terrain vehicles cannot be operated with more than one passenger unless more passengers are allowed under manufacturers’ recommendations. They also cannot be operated with a driver or passenger under the age of 18, unless the operator has a valid driver’s license or is 18 years of age or older. Passengers under the age of 18 must wear size-appropriate protective helmets.
These vehicles may, for the sole purpose of getting from one trail, field or area of operation to another, be operated upon the shoulder of any road, street or highway other than an interstate highway, for a distance not to exceed 10 miles, if the vehicle is operated at speeds of 25 miles per hour or less.
Penalties are $100 for the first offense. Also, any parent, legal guardian or person who has actual responsibility for a child under the age of 18 who knows or should have known the child is operating or is a passenger on an all-terrain vehicle, golf cart or utility-terrain vehicle without a helmet, will also face penalties. For a first offense, a fine of not less than $50 nor more than $100 or not more than 10 hours of community service or both. A second offense will include a fine of not less than $100 nor more than $200 or not more than 20 hours of community service or both. A third offense results in a fine of no less than $200 nor more than $500 or not more than 100 hours of community service or both.
The amendment and its stipulations do not apply to the operation of the aforementioned vehicles on private property.
When the first reading was discussed at this week’s meeting of Point Pleasant City Council, Councilman Bob Rulen felt more provisions needed to be added to coincide with laws required for operating a motor vehicle, such as using “hands free” devices to talk on cell phones and not operating the vehicles while intoxicated or on sidewalks. Stein said he would add those provisions when returning the amendment for a second reading.
One of the reasons the ordinance amendment was brought to the table included council members being concerned about seeing young children operating golf carts on city streets and W.Va. 62., with many feeling this was a safety hazard.