Legislature(2021 - 2022)BARNES 124

04/06/2021 01:00 PM House TRANSPORTATION

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Audio Topic
01:07:14 PM Start
01:08:14 PM Presentation(s): Safety Evaluation of Off-highway Vehicle Use in Alaska
03:02:21 PM Adjourn
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
-- Teleconference <Listen Only> --
+ Overview: Proposed Regulation 2021200079 - ATV's TELECONFERENCED
& Snowmobiles Use of Roadways by Dr. Nathan
Belz, Assistant Dir., Center for Safety Equity
in Transportation, Assoc. Professor, UAF College
of Engineering & Mines
-- Testimony <Invitation Only> --
+ Bills Previously Heard/Scheduled TELECONFERENCED
**Streamed live on AKL.tv**
                    ALASKA STATE LEGISLATURE                                                                                  
            HOUSE TRANSPORTATION STANDING COMMITTEE                                                                           
                         April 6, 2021                                                                                          
                           1:07 p.m.                                                                                            
MEMBERS PRESENT                                                                                                               
Representative Grier Hopkins, Chair                                                                                             
Representative Sara Hannan, Vice Chair                                                                                          
Representative Ivy Spohnholz                                                                                                    
Representative Harriet Drummond                                                                                                 
Representative Tom McKay                                                                                                        
Representative Kevin McCabe                                                                                                     
Representative Mike Cronk                                                                                                       
MEMBERS ABSENT                                                                                                                
All members present                                                                                                             
COMMITTEE CALENDAR                                                                                                            
PRESENTATION(S):  SAFETY EVALUATION OF OFF-HIGHWAY VEHICLE USE                                                                  
IN ALASKA                                                                                                                       
     - HEARD                                                                                                                    
PREVIOUS COMMITTEE ACTION                                                                                                     
No previous action to record                                                                                                    
WITNESS REGISTER                                                                                                              
JOE HARDENBROOK, Staff                                                                                                          
Representative Grier Hopkins                                                                                                    
Alaska State Legislature                                                                                                        
Juneau, Alaska                                                                                                                  
POSITION STATEMENT:  Staff to Representative Hopkins made                                                                     
committee announcements.                                                                                                        
DAVE DONLEY, Deputy Commissioner                                                                                                
Office of the Commissioner                                                                                                      
Department of Administration                                                                                                    
Anchorage, Alaska                                                                                                               
POSITION STATEMENT:  Answered committee questions preceding the                                                               
presentation, entitled "Safety Evaluation of Off-Highway Vehicle                                                                
Use in Alaska".                                                                                                                 
JENNA WRIGHT, Deputy Director                                                                                                   
Division of Motor Vehicles                                                                                                      
Department of Administration                                                                                                    
Anchorage, Alaska                                                                                                               
POSITION STATEMENT:   Answered committee questions  preceding the                                                             
presentation, entitled "Safety  Evaluation of Off-Highway Vehicle                                                               
Use in Alaska."                                                                                                                 
LEON MORGAN, Deputy Commissioner                                                                                                
Office of the Commissioner                                                                                                      
Department of Public Safety                                                                                                     
Juneau, Alaska                                                                                                                  
POSITION STATEMENT:   Answered committee questions  preceding the                                                             
presentation, entitled "Safety  Evaluation of Off-Highway Vehicle                                                               
Use in Alaska."                                                                                                                 
GLENDA D. LEDFORD, Mayor                                                                                                        
City of Wasilla                                                                                                                 
Wasilla, Alaska                                                                                                                 
POSITION  STATEMENT:   Had her  written statement  read into  the                                                             
record by Chair  Hopkins during the hearing  on Safety Evaluation                                                               
of Off-Highway Vehicle Use in Alaska.                                                                                           
DR. NATHAN BELZ                                                                                                                 
Associate Professor, Civil Engineering                                                                                          
University of Alaska, College of Engineering and Mines                                                                          
Fairbanks, Alaska                                                                                                               
POSITION  STATEMENT:     Presented  a  PowerPoint   and  answered                                                             
questions during the presentation.                                                                                              
ACTION NARRATIVE                                                                                                              
1:07:14 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR  GRIER HOPKINS  called  the  House Transportation  Standing                                                             
Committee meeting to order at 1:07 p.m.  Representatives Hannan,                                                                
Spohnholz (via  teleconference), Drummond, McKay,  McCabe, Cronk,                                                               
and Hopkins were present at the call to order.                                                                                  
^PRESENTATION(S):   Safety Evaluation of Off-Highway  Vehicle Use                                                               
in Alaska                                                                                                                       
 PRESENTATION(S):  Safety Evaluation of Off-Highway Vehicle Use                                                             
                           in Alaska                                                                                        
1:08:14 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR HOPKINS announced that the  only order of business would be                                                               
a presentation  on the safety  evaluation of  off-highway vehicle                                                               
use in Alaska.                                                                                                                  
1:09:02 PM                                                                                                                    
JOE  HARDENBROOK,  Staff,  Representative Grier  Hopkins,  Alaska                                                               
State  Legislature, informed  committee  relevant materials  were                                                               
included in packets.                                                                                                            
1:10:19 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR HOPKINS  said a significant  amount of public  interest had                                                               
been  generated,  including letters  to  the  editor and  stories                                                               
coming from citizens and local  government offices throughout the                                                               
state.   He made a note  that the meeting was  taking place under                                                               
the  auspices of  the Administrative  Procedures  Act, which  may                                                               
limit the questions able to  be asked and answered while proposed                                                               
regulations  were   still  open  for  comment.     Implementation                                                               
questions were  within bounds, but comments  on those regulations                                                               
were not, he offered as an example.                                                                                             
1:12:35 PM                                                                                                                    
DAVE  DONLEY, Deputy  Commissioner, Office  of the  Commissioner,                                                               
Department  of  Administration,  shared  Alaska had  one  of  the                                                               
highest  per  capita  ownership  rates  of  all-terrain  vehicles                                                               
(ATVs),   off-highway   vehicles    (OHVs),   snowmobiles   (snow                                                               
machines),  side-by-sides,  and  other all-purpose  vehicles  for                                                               
hunting,  fishing, subsistence,  and  other motorized  recreation                                                               
(also known  as ROVs).   Other  states including  Arizona, Idaho,                                                               
Montana, South  Dakota, and  Wyoming had  provided the  owners of                                                               
some of these with the  opportunity of making such vehicles legal                                                               
on public roads, he  shared.  It was the goal  for Alaskans to be                                                               
able to  travel safely and  affordably throughout the  state, and                                                               
as such the proposed regulations  would allow Alaskans to operate                                                               
ATVs as  listed above on roads  which had speed limits  of 45 mph                                                               
or  less, he  imparted.    Vehicle owners  would  be required  to                                                               
follow all  applicable statutes  and regulations  while operating                                                               
on roadways,  including being properly licensed  and insured, and                                                               
having the  correct equipment, such as  headlights, brake lights,                                                               
and muffler while  operating on public roads.   Local governments                                                               
would  be  able  to  opt  out  of  the  provisions  within  their                                                               
jurisdiction,  he  shared.    He   emphasized  these  were  draft                                                               
regulations and public comment was highly encouraged.                                                                           
1:16:19 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  HANNAN  noted   Deputy  Commissioner  Donley  had                                                               
listed  other states  that had  legalized ATVs  for on-road  use.                                                               
She asked, "Do you  have the dates or length of  time that any of                                                               
those states have allowed that?"                                                                                                
DEPUTY COMMISSIONER DONLEY replied no.                                                                                          
REPRESENTATIVE HANNAN noted a different  list from the Department                                                               
of  Transportation  & Public  Facilities  (DOT&PF)  said the  two                                                               
agencies did not list the same  states.  She said she wondered if                                                               
there were different  criteria for analyzing the data.   She said                                                               
the memorandum  from the  DOT&PF listed  "Wyoming with  a special                                                               
permit," and "Washington 35 miles per  hour or less."  She asked,                                                               
"So,  I  was just  wondering  if  your  list of  Arizona,  Idaho,                                                               
Montana, South Dakota, and Wyoming  were ones that were identical                                                               
to our state regulation proposal."                                                                                              
DEPUTY  COMMISSIONER   DONLEY  replied   no  other   states  were                                                               
identical,  mostly because  the  regulations  in Alaska  involved                                                               
snow machines.                                                                                                                  
REPRESENTATIVE   HANNAN   observed   that   the   Department   of                                                               
Administration's   (DOA's)   cover   memo   stated   that   local                                                               
governments would be  empowered to opt out.  She  asked about the                                                               
timeframe for opting out and  whether "[local governments] had to                                                               
opt out by specific road" or,  for example in the Municipality of                                                               
Anchorage, say everything was in the municipality.                                                                              
DEPUTY COMMISSIONER  DONLEY said  under the current  system local                                                               
governments  could provide  for the  legality, and  it was  not a                                                               
road-by-road matter unless they chose to make it so.                                                                            
1:19:45 PM                                                                                                                    
JENNA  WRIGHT,  Deputy  Director,  Division  of  Motor  Vehicles,                                                               
Department of Administration, put herself  on the record and said                                                               
she was available for questions.                                                                                                
1:20:15 PM                                                                                                                    
LEON  MORGAN, Deputy  Commissioner, Office  of the  Commissioner,                                                               
Department of Public Safety (DPS),  put himself on the record and                                                               
said he was available for questions.                                                                                            
1:20:52 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR HOPKINS  noted OHVs  would be  operated on  the roads.   He                                                               
asked, "Is  there a  reason the  DOT&PF was  not included  in the                                                               
crafting    and    implementation    of    these    regulations?"                                                               
DEPUTY  COMMISSIONER  DONLEY  responded  the  regulatory  process                                                               
"geared" off  what department had jurisdiction  over the specific                                                               
regulation  being proposed  or amended,  and the  DOT&PF did  not                                                               
have jurisdiction directly over the issue.                                                                                      
CHAIR  HOPKINS said  DPS  regulations  and comment  opportunities                                                               
"appeared to be going through  the Alaska Wildlife Troopers."  He                                                               
asked,  "Why was  it  not  done through  the  state troopers  and                                                               
instead done through the Alaska ... [Wildlife] Troopers?"                                                                       
1:22:20 PM                                                                                                                    
DEPUTY COMMISSIONER MORGAN  responded there was a  cadre of staff                                                               
and  the member  of the  DPS  was the  one who  was available  to                                                               
assist with aggregating the public comment.                                                                                     
CHAIR HOPKINS asked, "Will that  impact ... who will be enforcing                                                               
these regulations  and the rules that  are put into place  on the                                                               
highways and roads themselves?"                                                                                                 
DEPUTY  COMMISSIONER  DONLEY  responded no,  both  divisions  had                                                               
fully sworn troopers who enforced all laws in Alaska.                                                                           
1:23:45 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  HANNAN asked  Deputy Commissioner  Morgan, "Could                                                               
you  speculate,  or do  you  know  right  now:   of  a  trooper's                                                               
workload,  how  much of  it  is  safety checks  for  street-legal                                                               
compliance  - lights  don't work,  blinkers  aren't there,  those                                                               
kinds  of things  - or  are those  only done  by troopers  in the                                                               
course of other stops for other reasons?"                                                                                       
DEPUTY COMMISSIONER  MORGAN responded in  the past the  focus had                                                               
been on  safety checks, but today  it was secondary to  calls for                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE  HANNAN, in  terms  of where  troopers would  have                                                               
jurisdiction if the  regulations were in place,  asked, "Would it                                                               
require additional  work for troopers  - would you  anticipate an                                                               
increasing  trooper  workload  for  enforcement  that  ATVs  were                                                               
complying with  the - and I'm  going to use the  phrase - 'street                                                               
legal' requirements of the regulations?"                                                                                        
DEPUTY COMMISSIONER MORGAN  replied he didn't know,  but the same                                                               
number  of licensed  drivers  would  be on  the  road, just  with                                                               
different vehicles.                                                                                                             
1:27:03 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE SPOHNHOLZ  asked Deputy Commissioner  Donley, "Why                                                               
did  the  administration  choose to  introduce  regulations  that                                                               
would  require communities  to opt  out rather  than leaving  the                                                               
issue to local communities?"                                                                                                    
DEPUTY  COMMISSIONER DONLEY  responded the  regulation did  allow                                                               
local communities  to choose; just  changed the  presumption from                                                               
"against" to "in favor of."                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE  SPOHNHOLZ clarified  her  question:   "Why is  it                                                               
that the administration chose that  particular policy call?"  She                                                               
said it  is different to  go from an opt-in  to an opt-out.   She                                                               
said the  state's constitution is  in favor of  local government.                                                               
She asked,  "What was the problem  that you were trying  to solve                                                               
that  you felt  like  an  opt-out was  the  better solution  than                                                               
leaving it as an opt-in, as currently?"                                                                                         
DEPUTY  COMMISSIONER DONLEY  responded  there were  areas of  the                                                               
state which did  not have local government so could  not opt out,                                                               
and there were  also groups and individuals  requesting this type                                                               
of initiative.                                                                                                                  
REPRESENTATIVE  SPOHNHOLZ asked,  "So,  who were  the groups  and                                                               
communities that were requesting it?"                                                                                           
DEPUTY COMMISSIONER DONLEY replied he would get information.                                                                    
1:29:42 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  MCCABE  asked, "I'm  interested  to  know if  you                                                               
have an idea of  how many center line miles or  how many miles of                                                               
dirt road  or gravel road  are affected  versus paved road?"   He                                                               
said he thinks there is  concern that there will be four-wheelers                                                               
driving on  highways, but he said  he does not think  that is the                                                               
case.  Instead, he said he thinks  this has to do with back roads                                                               
and gravel roads  in rural Alaska, such as in  his district or in                                                               
Talkeetna, where  someone might  want to  ride a  four-wheeler to                                                               
the neighbor's  house a couple  miles down  the road on  a gravel                                                               
road rather than  a mud ditch.   He asked, "So is there  a way to                                                               
tell or  sort of differentiate  between what we're  talking about                                                               
as far as gravel roads or paved roads and that sort of thing?"                                                                  
DEPUTY COMMISSIONER  DONLEY replied new estimates  were available                                                               
but current regulations were based on speed limits.                                                                             
DEPUTY COMMISSIONER  MORGAN replied  1,900 (of 5,600)  road miles                                                               
would be affected.                                                                                                              
CHAIR HOPKINS  pointed members to  a chart with  more information                                                               
on roads in individual districts.                                                                                               
1:32:31 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  MCCABE  observed that  1,900  was  fewer than  or                                                               
one-third of  roads.  He  asked, "How  many of those  1,900 miles                                                               
are just gravel roads out in the boondocks?"                                                                                    
CHAIR HOPKINS said the DOT&PF could be asked.                                                                                   
1:34:10 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR HOPKINS  noted his own  community of Fairbanks  has several                                                               
45 mph,  fully paved,  roads in  the urban area.   He  noted that                                                               
Fairbanks  is  a second-class  borough  that  did not  have  road                                                               
powers.   He asked, "How would  a municipality like that  be able                                                               
to opt out  if they do not have road  powers within their charter                                                               
or expanded by voters?"                                                                                                         
DEPUTY COMMISSIONER DONLEY replied that  issues of the like would                                                               
be raised during the public comment period.                                                                                     
1:35:31 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  SPOHNHOLZ  described   households  with  numerous                                                               
vehicles and speculated how younger  members of the household may                                                               
use an  ATV for  transportation when the  other vehicles  were in                                                               
use by  the adults.   She asked Deputy Commissioner  Morgan, "Was                                                               
there any  kind of assessment done,  or a study done,  to sort of                                                               
evaluate the risks associated with that?"                                                                                       
DEPUTY COMMISSIONER MORGAN replied there had not been.                                                                          
REPRESENTATIVE  SPOHNHOLZ  commented  the  "delta"  between  cost                                                               
implications  and safety  needed  to be  understood.   She  asked                                                               
Deputy Director  Wright, "How  many licensed  drivers do  we have                                                               
and how many licensed vehicles do we have?"                                                                                     
DEPUTY DIRECTOR WRIGHT said she would provide the information.                                                                  
1:38:30 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  MCCABE mentioned  accidents  caused  by ATVs  and                                                               
four-wheelers operating illegally  on the roads.   He wondered if                                                               
requirements to  have lights, signals, headlights,  brake lights,                                                               
helmets,  and a  license to  operate  on the  road legally  would                                                               
decrease the number of accidents.                                                                                               
DEPUTY   COMMISSIONER  DONLEY   replied   a   comment  would   be                                                               
inappropriate public comment was still open.                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE MCCABE said he was  waiting to see public comment,                                                               
but a constituent  has said there have been  an inordinate number                                                               
of accidents due  to ATVs operating illegally,  so having correct                                                               
regulations may help prevent some of those.                                                                                     
1:41:25 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR HOPKINS  asked what  the process  of maintaining  a license                                                               
for a  snow machine or a  hovercraft or a tracked  vehicle, to be                                                               
able to take them on the road.                                                                                                  
DEPUTY  DIRECTOR WRIGHT  replied  same as  any  Class D  license:                                                               
valid permit if  under the age of 18, passing  score on knowledge                                                               
test, passing road test in car or truck.                                                                                        
CHAIR HOPKINS  concluded that  means that there's  going to  be a                                                               
written test,  so the book will  be amended.  He  asked, "Then is                                                               
that Department  of Motor Vehicles  (DMV) employee going to  do a                                                               
ride-along on the  snow machine with that  individual through the                                                               
town that would be utilizing those roads?"                                                                                      
DEPUTY DIRECTOR WRIGHT replied  implementation analysis needed to                                                               
be  done; there  have  been some  solutions  during the  COVID-19                                                               
pandemic utilizing GoPro technology.                                                                                            
1:43:04 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  CRONK expressed  he was  also looking  forward to                                                               
hearing  public  comment and  asked  what  "any emission  control                                                               
system in good working order" meant on a snow machine or ATV.                                                                   
DEPUTY   COMMISSIONER    MORGAN   replied    existing   emissions                                                               
requirements  for vehicles  on roadways;  essentially that  there                                                               
needed to be a working muffler.                                                                                                 
1:45:17 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  HANNAN  remarked   snow  machines  are  currently                                                               
required to  be registered.   She  asked Deputy  Director Wright,                                                               
"Will there be  a different registration for a  snow machine that                                                               
you're  trying to  make 'street  legal'  to comply  and use  with                                                               
this,  versus one  that  you  were never  intending  to drive  on                                                               
roads, and do we know what that cost be?"                                                                                       
DEPUTY COMMISSIONER WRIGHT  replied currently reflective stickers                                                               
went  on snow  machines; there  would  be no  difference in  cost                                                               
between stickers and plates.                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE HANNAN  asked, "Is  there is  a cost  currently to                                                               
register  an  ATV,  and  what  will  the  costs  be  under  these                                                               
regulations to register an ATV?"                                                                                                
DEPUTY COMMISSIONER WRIGHT replied  the pricing structure was the                                                               
same  as  snow  machines,  but ATVs  did  not  currently  require                                                               
registration.   If you wanted  to take it  on the road  you would                                                               
need to register it, she added.                                                                                                 
1:47:37 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE SPOHNHOLZ  shared she had been  driving ATVs since                                                               
she was  a child,  and she  said it is  different from  driving a                                                               
car.   She asked Deputy  Director Wright, "Did you  ever consider                                                               
creating a  special license or  a tag  for this rather  than just                                                               
saying  that  a  regular  street  license  for  a  car  would  be                                                               
appropriate for this?"                                                                                                          
DEPUTY  DIRECTOR WRIGHT  replied Class  D licenses  covered ATVs,                                                               
and snow machines  "when it was required;" Class  R licenses were                                                               
for off-highway  use and communities  which have opted  into snow                                                               
machine ordinances.                                                                                                             
REPRESENTATIVE SPOHNHOLZ  asked, "Was there any  consideration of                                                               
encouraging  people to  [utilize  class R  licenses] rather  than                                                               
using traditional licensing?"                                                                                                   
DEPUTY   COMMISSIONER  DONLEY   interjected  caution   should  be                                                               
exercised in speaking of the draft proposal process.                                                                            
1:50:21 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR HOPKINS said he has a  Class D license for driving his car.                                                               
He asked, "Would I have to get  a different Class D license to be                                                               
able to  take my hovercraft  onto the roads around  Fairbanks, or                                                               
would I need  to go get another separate license  to be sure that                                                               
I have  had the training and  that I am a  good enough hovercraft                                                               
DEPUTY  DIRECTOR  WRIGHT replied  the  existing  Class D  license                                                               
would cover the driving of hovercraft.                                                                                          
REPRESENTATIVE SPOHNHOLZ  said she was concerned  about safety as                                                               
you could go  a lot faster in  a car, and ATVs  and snow machines                                                               
were driven by  kids.  One could "take corners"  much faster in a                                                               
car than  in an ATV, she  offered, and driving the  latter was an                                                               
entirely different  animal, she  stated, adding  that she  was in                                                               
support of  living a rural  lifestyle but that this  proposal was                                                               
too  broad, she  said, and  not  everything had  been taken  into                                                               
1:52:17 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR HOPKINS noted  that in the proposed  regulations, under "13                                                               
AAC 40-010(a), a  new paragraph would define  what an all-purpose                                                               
vehicle is.   He read  the language.   He asked, "Can  you please                                                               
comment  on what  that subsection  30 does  not include  for what                                                               
would be qualified as an all-purpose vehicle?"                                                                                  
1:53:16 PM                                                                                                                    
DEPUTY COMMISSIONER DONLEY read subsection 30 in reply.                                                                         
CHAIR HOPKINS replied, "clear as mud."                                                                                          
1:54:06 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE CRONK  asked if full  coverage insurance  would be                                                               
required, same as driving automobiles.                                                                                          
1:56:17 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  MCCABE  said  children   weren't  trained  to  be                                                               
drivers except by  their parents, so it might not  be relevant to                                                               
talk about safety in statute.   "Learn the 'regular' rules of the                                                               
road, that's the relevant part," he offered.                                                                                    
1:58:25 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR  HOPKINS  asked,  "Are  you  required  to  get  a  specific                                                               
motorcycle  license  and  pass  a  different  test  to  get  your                                                               
motorcycle driver's license?"                                                                                                   
DEPUTY DIRECTOR WRIGHT replied yes.                                                                                             
CHAIR  HOPKINS  asked  if  there were  any  different  rules  for                                                               
following the  rules of  the road,  or if  it were  to understand                                                               
that you can drive a motorcycle safely.                                                                                         
DEPUTY  DIRECTOR WRIGHT  replied the  latter; the  knowledge test                                                               
was no different than any other vehicle.                                                                                        
1:59:01 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE HANNAN,  referring to  a DOT&PF  list of  roads in                                                               
Juneau, asked  if any regulations  were based not on  speed limit                                                               
but on condition of road.  She  noted a street in Skagway and one                                                               
in Haines  that were state roads  with speed limits of  less than                                                               
45 mph.  She said she can think  of many roads where no one would                                                               
be concerned if  an ATV was being operated down  a dirt road that                                                               
connects  fields  or  large, private  parcels  of  land,  whereas                                                               
"driving  down  Main  Street's  going to  give  everyone  in  the                                                               
crosswalk  a  little  heartburn."     She  asked  if  there  were                                                               
categories of  roads besides miles  per hour that DOA  looked at,                                                               
because 45 mph  without any other qualifiers seemed  like "a very                                                               
large lump" of roads and  concerned her regarding not only safety                                                               
but also  the cost to  maintain roads  that had vehicles  such as                                                               
snow  machines running  on them.   She  asked whether  there were                                                               
other ways to group [roads] regarding the issue.                                                                                
DEPUTY  COMMISSIONER  DONLEY  replied there  were  traffic  count                                                               
minimum  numbers, such  as  were used  to  determine whether  the                                                               
mandatory Auto  Insurance Act applied or  didn't; categories were                                                               
based on funding, such as the National Highway System.                                                                          
2:02:27 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  DRUMMOND said  she is  trying to  figure out  how                                                               
this  will work  in Anchorage.   She  named some  roads and  said                                                               
folks who used  off-road vehicles lived in the  hundreds of miles                                                               
of residential  roads in  Anchorage, all of  which were  under 25                                                               
mph.   She  asked if  DOT's  regulations were  intended to  allow                                                               
traffic  on off-road  vehicles on  residential  streets in  urban                                                               
areas  like Anchorage  or if  regulations  strictly pertained  to                                                               
DOT-maintained roads.                                                                                                           
DEPUTY  COMMISSIONER  DONLEY  replied  it would  pertain  to  all                                                               
Alaska  roads and  was a  reversal of  the existing  presumption;                                                               
when operated by a properly  licensed individual and insured they                                                               
would be allowed to operate unless a local government opted out.                                                                
2:04:01 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR HOPKINS asked how it  would be addressed in the regulations                                                               
if a local municipality were not able to opt out.                                                                               
DEPUTY  COMMISSIONER  DONLEY  replied  it  would  be  taken  into                                                               
consideration along with all public comment.                                                                                    
CHAIR HOPKINS, from a question  submitted by Representative Prax,                                                               
asked  what sort  of  liability  insurance a  driver  of an  all-                                                               
purpose vehicle would need to have to operate it legally.                                                                       
DEPUTY COMMISSIONER  DONLEY replied the statute  which determined                                                               
which vehicles  must have liability insurance  remained unchanged                                                               
by the regulations.                                                                                                             
CHAIR HOPKINS asked for a copy  of the statute citation and asked                                                               
if it include all the definitions under an all-purpose vehicle.                                                                 
DEPUTY COMMISSIONER  DONLEY replied the statue  referred to motor                                                               
2:06:06 PM                                                                                                                    
DEPUTY  DIRECTOR WRIGHT  replied as  20.15.11(b) stated  everyone                                                               
taking   control  of   the  vehicle   needed  mandatory   vehicle                                                               
CHAIR HOPKINS asked  if that pertained to a  specific license, or                                                               
if that type  of liability was required for  plowing his driveway                                                               
or driving to his neighbor's house.                                                                                             
DEPUTY DIRECTOR WRIGHT  replied it applied to  vehicles driven on                                                               
CHAIR HOPKINS asked, "So, I would  need to get that ... liability                                                               
insurance under  [AS] 28.15.11(b)  before I'm legally  allowed to                                                               
operate an all-purpose vehicle on a roadway?"                                                                                   
DEPUTY DIRECTOR WRIGHT replied that was correct.                                                                                
2:07:30 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR  HOPKINS,  regarding  the   definition  of  an  all-purpose                                                               
vehicle, asked, "Are there any  weight limits associated with it?                                                               
For example, can I take my  14,000-pound track vehicle that I use                                                               
to go hunting and take that on a roadway?"                                                                                      
DEPUTY COMMISSIONER  DONLEY said  he didn't know;  it was  in the                                                               
DOT&PF's purview.                                                                                                               
CHAIR   HOPKINS  asked,   "That  sounds   like  there   would  be                                                               
regulations  under DOT&PF's  offices  that would  be impacted  by                                                               
these new regulations?"                                                                                                         
DEPUTY COMMISSIONER  DONLEY replied anything that  the DOT&PF had                                                               
for  weight  limit restrictions  would  apply  to anything  being                                                               
operated on public roads.                                                                                                       
2:08:40 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE   SPOHNHOLZ   noted   AS   28.15.11(b)   addresses                                                               
licensing  of  drivers.    She asked,  "What's  the  statute  for                                                               
liability insurance?"                                                                                                           
DEPUTY DIRECTOR WRIGHT clarified AS 28.22.11(a)                                                                                 
2:09:15 PM                                                                                                                    
GLENDA  D.  LEDFORD, Mayor,  City  of  Wasilla, had  her  written                                                               
statement  read  by  Chair  Hopkins.    The  statement  [hardcopy                                                               
included  in  the committee  packet]  read  as follows  [original                                                               
punctuation provided]:                                                                                                          
     On behalf  of the  Mayor Ledford  and Chief  Smith, the                                                                    
     proposed  regulation does  not make  sense in  an urban                                                                    
     environment such  as Wasilla. This would  create a huge                                                                    
     safety  problem with  ATV's  and Snowmobiles  traveling                                                                    
     along  with  passenger  vehicles, pickups,  and  tactor                                                                    
     trailers hauling  freight and heavy equipment  on State                                                                    
     roads like  the Parks Highway,  Palmer-Wasilla Highway,                                                                    
     and  portions of  Knik-Goose  Bay  Road. Urban  centers                                                                    
     like Wasilla  have high traffic  counts and this  is an                                                                    
     invitation for conflict &  accidents. Other State roads                                                                    
     in  our area  that would  be affected  include Wasilla-                                                                    
     Fishhook  Road,  Bogard  Road,   Church  Road  and  Old                                                                    
     Matanuska  Road. The  City of  Wasilla would  certainly                                                                    
     seek  an  ordinance to  restrict  the  use of  ATV's  &                                                                    
       Snowmobiles on local roads as a safety measure to                                                                        
     protect the citizens in our community.                                                                                     
CHAIR  HOPKINS stated  questions could  be submitted  until April                                                               
18; email could be supplied.                                                                                                    
2:12:06 PM                                                                                                                    
The committee took a brief at-ease.                                                                                             
2:12:28 PM                                                                                                                    
DR.   NATHAN  BELZ,   Associate  Professor,   Civil  Engineering,                                                               
University of  Alaska, College of  Engineering and  Mines, stated                                                               
ATVs  helped fulfill  needs and  were  far cheaper  to ship  than                                                               
vehicles.    Related facts  about  crashes  in Kotzebue,  Alaska,                                                               
which had  a population of  3,300 in  2013:  604  registered snow                                                               
machines and  372 registered passenger  cars; 25% of  all traffic                                                               
crashes  involved ATVs/snow  machines;  21  crashes in  2013-2017                                                               
involved  speeding  ATVs on  village  streets.   He  shared  Off-                                                               
highway vehicles (OHVs) significantly  contributed to the economy                                                               
from  a  recreation  perspective;   yet,  from  a  transportation                                                               
perspective,  30% of  communities  were located  on a  contiguous                                                               
highway,  which  accounted  for  about  80%  of  residents.    He                                                               
imparted  speed  limits  in  Alaska were  55  mph  unless  posted                                                               
differently, 61.5% of  DOT&PF roads were paved, 31%  of all roads                                                               
in  Alaska  were  paved,  and 1900  miles  would  potentially  be                                                               
affected by proposed changes.                                                                                                   
DR.  BELZ  shared  OHV  fatalities within  the  last  five  years                                                               
exceeded  the  goals  of  the   Strategic  Highway  Safety  Plan,                                                               
developed by  DOT&PF.  The  numbers were increasing as  well, and                                                               
were starting to include bicyclists and pedestrians, he added.                                                                  
2:16:58 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  MCCABE asked  how  many accidents  took place  on                                                               
DR.  BELZ  replied  the numbers  reflected  crashes  and  traumas                                                               
resulting from OHV accidents on roadways.                                                                                       
REPRESENTATIVE MCCABE asked if crossing the road counted.                                                                       
DR. BELZ replied  crossing was same if the  occurrence took place                                                               
on the road.                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE MCCABE  asked if the  shoulder of the  road and/or                                                               
ditch counted.                                                                                                                  
DR. BELZ replied the "on the  shoulder" did not include the ditch                                                               
of the roadway.                                                                                                                 
2:19:51 PM                                                                                                                    
DR.  BELZ clarified  the Consumer  Federation of  America defined                                                               
OHVs  and ATVs  as having  three  or four  low-pressure tires,  a                                                               
straddle  seat  for the  operator,  and  handlebars for  steering                                                               
control.   Recreational off-highway vehicles (ROVs)  were defined                                                               
as  four or  more  vehicles with  low-pressure  tires, bench-  or                                                               
bucket-seating  for   two  or  more   occupants,  automotive-type                                                               
controls   for   steering,   throttle,  and   braking,   rollover                                                               
protection,  occupant restraint,  and maximum  speed capabilities                                                               
greater than 30 mph.                                                                                                            
CHAIR HOPKINS asked what happened  with low pressure tires if you                                                               
had to slam on the brakes at 45mph.                                                                                             
DR.  BELZ replied  OHVs  typically had  deep  tread tires,  which                                                               
could act unpredictably,  were even prone to coming  off the rim,                                                               
and could likely result in the operator losing control.                                                                         
DEPUTY DIRECTOR WRIGHT replied she didn't know about tires.                                                                     
CHAIR HOPKINS  asked if  DMV had  requirements for  tire pressure                                                               
DEPUTY DIRECTOR WRIGHT said she would follow up.                                                                                
2:23:15 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE MCCABE  asked if there  was data to back  up tires                                                               
coming off  rims at low pressure  because he never had  it happen                                                               
to him.                                                                                                                         
DR.  BELZ replied  it  was through  the  Consumer Product  Safety                                                               
Commission  (CPSC) and  other  related  agencies, and  referenced                                                               
paved surfaces, not gravel.                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE  MCCABE asked  if CPSC  information could  be made                                                               
DR. BELZ replied yes.                                                                                                           
2:25:06 PM                                                                                                                    
DR.  BELZ shared  he felt  the  proposal was  dangerous and  ill-                                                               
advised,  and shared  the grounds  on which  he made  that claim:                                                               
nationwide, crash  and injury data indicated  on-road OHV drivers                                                               
and  passengers were  twice as  likely to  incur major  trauma as                                                               
those  who were  off-road crash  victims; on-road  OHV fatalities                                                               
were 77% more likely to involve  alcohol, were 44% less likely to                                                               
involve  the  operator  wearing a  helmet;  on-road  OHV  crashes                                                               
accounted for 60% of all  ATV-related deaths; on-road ROV crashes                                                               
accounted for 69%  of all ROV-related deaths, he  shared.  Alaska                                                               
had one of the top ten  highest ROV-related death rates on public                                                               
roads,  with 28.6  deaths per  100 million  people between  2007-                                                               
2011, and  ranked second in  US states for number  of off-highway                                                               
vehicle-related fatalities from 2004-2013  when compared with the                                                               
total number of miles traveled within the state, he added.                                                                      
2:27:12 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE MCCABE asked if there was a variable for speed.                                                                  
DR. BELZ replied the statistics did not account for speed.                                                                      
2:28:06 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE CRONK asked how many people died.                                                                                
DR. BELZ replied Alaska was  in the top 10 highest ATV/OHV-rider-                                                               
related deaths on public roads.                                                                                                 
REPRESENTATIVE CRONK asked what years?                                                                                          
DR. BELZ replied  the data was from 2007-2011, and  the study was                                                               
published in 2014 in the Journal of Safety Research.                                                                            
2:29:06 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  MCCABE  asked  if  the  most  current  was  2014,                                                               
because it was a bit dated.                                                                                                     
DR. BELZ replied there was more  recent data as well and he would                                                               
get to that.                                                                                                                    
2:29:54 PM                                                                                                                    
DR.  BELZ shared  there were  multi-agency summits  in the  early                                                               
2000s to try to  address the issue; in 2017 a  study on safety of                                                               
OHV use  in Alaska  was conducted.   In  2019 Gabriel  Fulton and                                                               
Tristan Sayre,  graduate students,  helped complete the  work, he                                                               
shared.    The  study  used   mixed-methods  approach,  in  which                                                               
residents  were  required  to  register  snowmobiles  which  were                                                               
driven  off  private  property.     Their  registration  was  not                                                               
required by  the DMV, but  ATVs with low-pressure tires  could be                                                               
registered  as "snow  vehicles," he  said.   Dr.  Belz went  over                                                               
borough and city policies on slides  32-33.  He noted 13 boroughs                                                               
currently defaulted to state provisions,  five boroughs and eight                                                               
cities currently had on-road OHV  policies, and the policies were                                                               
each unique in some way from each  of the others in terms of time                                                               
of day,  age of operator,  helmet use,  and more.   Alaska Trauma                                                               
Registry  totals were  on  slides 35-38,  he  shared: the  totals                                                               
indicated 25% of  the 1352 crashes involving ATVs and  18% of the                                                               
936 crashes involving snowmobiles  throughout the years 2009-2014                                                               
took place  on highways and roadways,  he put forth.   The Alaska                                                               
Trauma  Registry  also indicated  trauma  was  5x and  2.5x  more                                                               
likely  for OHV  and snowmobile  operators respectively  on roads                                                               
than on trails and wilderness areas, he stated.                                                                                 
2:33:28 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR HOPKINS asked how  new regulations' implementation impacted                                                               
plans having to be rewritten or not.                                                                                            
DR.  BELZ said  he would  need  to refrain  from answering  until                                                               
after the public comment had ended.                                                                                             
2:34:24 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE CRONK  stated it  seemed to be  a rural  vs. urban                                                               
decision,  where in  the rural  areas OHVs,  including on  roads,                                                               
were a way of life.                                                                                                             
CHAIR HOPKINS  agreed; wondered how  Fairbanks could opt  out, as                                                               
it was much too urban,  whereas somewhere like Toque would choose                                                               
to opt in.                                                                                                                      
2:36:56 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  MCCABE noted  Alaska  was so  much further  below                                                               
other states  such as Florida,  Illinois, and Minnesota  in total                                                               
fatalities, despite OHVs  being operated so much  more in Alaska,                                                               
and asked if any variable had  been put into place to reflect the                                                               
amount  of  time   Alaskans  spent  on  OHVs   versus  the  total                                                               
DR. BELZ  said there was no  data to reflect the  number of hours                                                               
used by OHVs  nor was there available mileage data,  as there was                                                               
for conventional automobiles.                                                                                                   
2:39:24 PM                                                                                                                    
DR. BELZ  went over  slides on  incidents and  fatalities between                                                               
the years  2013-2017 on slides  39-42.  The DMV  report indicated                                                               
there  were 255  OHV  and snowmobile  incidents  on highways  and                                                               
roadways  throughout 2008  and 2012,  he put  forth.   During the                                                               
2008 and  2012, 30%  of incidents resulted  in serious  injury or                                                               
fatality,  17% involved  operators aged  16 or  younger, and  40%                                                               
occurred at  intersections, he stated.   Between 2013-2017, there                                                               
were  227   incidents,  40% resulting  in  serious injuries,  20%                                                               
involved  operators aged  16 or  younger, and  30% took  place at                                                               
intersections, he  shared.  Throughout  2009 - 2017,  the highest                                                               
crash densities were in the  smaller communities, he pointed out,                                                               
referencing slide 42.   He shared screenshots of  OHV/ATV news in                                                               
national media  in 2017-2018,  which he  shared on  slides 43-45.                                                               
He shared graduate student Tristan  Sayre's project summarized on                                                               
slides  50-54, in  which still  images  and videos  were used  to                                                               
analyze OHV operator safety.                                                                                                    
2:45:28 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  MCCABE asked  about  the  pictures, because  some                                                               
operators  appeared  to  be  traveling  on  trails  and  some  in                                                               
DR. BELZ  replied some  were using the  road lawfully  while some                                                               
others were not.                                                                                                                
DR. BELZ imparted the proposed  changes were directly contrary to                                                               
the  Alaska  Strategic  Highway  Safety  Plan  developed  by  the                                                               
DOT&PF, stakeholders,  and the  Alaska State  Troopers.   He said                                                               
Troopers were not  able to pursue an OHV if  the operator were to                                                               
flee from a  traffic stop, which was problematic.   He shared The                                                               
Specialty Vehicle Institute of America  stated "ATVs are intended                                                               
for off-road use only. Never operate  an ATV on public roads, and                                                               
always avoid  paved surfaces.  ATVs are not  designed for  use on                                                               
public  roads..."   and  the   Consumer  Federation   of  America                                                               
coalition members have signed onto  over 230 letters in 26 states                                                               
since 2014 advocating against legislation  to allow OHVs on roads                                                               
as they  "are not designed  for roadway use and  therefore should                                                               
not be allowed on public roads."                                                                                                
2:49:46 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE MCCABE  asked how many fatalities  would have been                                                               
prevented if helmets had been worn.                                                                                             
DR. BELZ said he couldn't comment  on the crashes that might have                                                               
been  prevented   specifically,  but   over  40%   of  fatalities                                                               
indicated no helmet was worn at the time of the incident.                                                                       
REPRESENTATIVE MCCABE asked if drivers  had been wearing a helmet                                                               
and  proper clothing  would  they have  been  okay and  commented                                                               
there were too many variables in the study.                                                                                     
CHAIR HOPKINS  asked if Representative  McCabe would like  to see                                                               
regulations put forward for a mandatory helmet law.                                                                             
REPRESENTATIVE MCCABE replied he wore a helmet.                                                                                 
CHAIR HOPKINS replied he was glad about that.                                                                                   
REPRESENTATIVE MCCABE asked whether part  of the issue was having                                                               
such a generic term; that many OHVs were safer than others.                                                                     
CHAIR HOPKINS replied that was part of the problem.                                                                             
2:54:31 PM                                                                                                                    
DR. BELZ  seconded Representative McCabe  in that the  nature and                                                               
design had changed  markedly since ATVs/OHVs were  referred to as                                                               
such, and the  generic definition was a problem.   It was why the                                                               
distinction  between  ATVs  and  ROVs  existed  within  OHVs,  he                                                               
stated.  It was still trye,  he added, however, none of them were                                                               
recommended  on roads,  especially on  paved roads,  for all  the                                                               
other reasons already mentioned.                                                                                                
CHAIR  HOPKINS   asked  if  there   was  confusion   between  the                                                               
definitions and acronyms.                                                                                                       
DR. BELZ  replied yes, snow machine/snowmobile,  e.g.; more would                                                               
be addressed through the public comment period.                                                                                 
2:56:37 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  HANNAN  asked  about  the  Alaska  State  Trooper                                                               
regulations regarding pursuit and  enforcement, and if they would                                                               
CHAIR HOPKINS added the DPS would be made aware of the question.                                                                
2:58:09 PM                                                                                                                    
DR. BELZ  though we  would most people  would appreciate  the new                                                               
freedom,  as a  transportation professional  it was  clear Alaska                                                               
had  a  safety issue  regarding  the  law, and  safety  advocates                                                               
2:59:24 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE CRONK  asked for  a breakdown and  whether alcohol                                                               
was involved.                                                                                                                   
DR. BELZ  replied 2014-2017 20.4% of  documented crashes involved                                                               
operators under the  age of 16, 30.5%  involved operators between                                                               
the  ages of  16-25,  and alcohol  was suspected  in  22% of  the                                                               
3:02:21 PM                                                                                                                    
There being no  further business before the  committee, the House                                                               
Transportation Standing  Committee meeting was adjourned  at 3:02                                                               

Document Name Date/Time Subjects
DPS and DOA ATV and Snowmachine Regulation Proposal 4.6.2021.pdf HTRA 4/6/2021 1:00:00 PM
Proposed ATV and Snowmachine Regulations - Public Roadways
ATV Snowmachine Presentation - Dr Nathan Belz - House TRA Committee 4.6.2021.pdf HTRA 4/6/2021 1:00:00 PM
Proposed Regulations: ATV and Snowmachines on Public Roadways
DOTPF Response to HTRA Questions re Proposed ATV and Snowmachine Use of Roadways Regulations.pdf HTRA 4/6/2021 1:00:00 PM
Proposed ATV and Snowmachine Regulations
DOTPF Data by House District - Response to HTRA Questions re ATV Snowmachine Proposed Regulations 4.6.2021.xlsx HTRA 4/6/2021 1:00:00 PM
Proposed ATV and Snowmachine Regulations
ATV Snowmachine Regulations - Letter of Opposition Robert Archibald 4.6.2021.pdf HTRA 4/6/2021 1:00:00 PM
Proposed ATV and Snowmachine Regulations Public Roadways
ATV Snowmachine Regulations - Letter of Opposition Gail Davidson 4.6.2021.pdf HTRA 4/6/2021 1:00:00 PM
ATV and Snowmachine Regulations Public Roadways