June 16 – A group of off-road enthusiasts hopes to legalize the operation of all-terrain vehicles – including ATVs and UTVs – on designated roads in Ohio County.
Sarah Coots, a member of the “OC Street Legal SxS” Facebook group, said Tuesday that several people in Ohio County would like to see the law changed.
“Riding ATVs, side-by-sides, things like that, is very popular in this area,” she said. More so since the start of COVID-19.”
Coots said there is no private or public off-road park for enthusiasts, so they end up driving their off-road vehicles on public roads to get to a private place, where they can drive them off road.
“Most of the riding we do is on private property,” Coots said. “Fortunately, we know a lot of farmers who allow us to ride. Of course, to get to private property where you can ride, there is no way to do it legally, because you are not allowed ride on the roads.”
Coots said that while there is a pilot program in Kentucky’s revised statutes that allows off-road vehicles to be legally driven on designated county and state roads, the county must have its own off-road park in order to apply for the program. .
The group members plan to speak at the July 12 Ohio County Tax Court meeting to discuss their desire to see the law changed.
Ohio County Executive Judge David Johnston said Wednesday he had seen Facebook posts about a desire to make vehicles street legal in Ohio County.
“Before that, we were at a conference in Lexington last week, judges and magistrates were from all over the state, and the laws were pretty much laid out for us,” Johnston said. “It would be very difficult to do.”
Johnston said specific roads should be designated for use by all-terrain vehicles and vehicles should be equipped with seat belts and turn signals.
“It’s quite difficult,” he said, “but our court is so open-minded, we’re going to listen.”
Coots said she was aware that several years ago all-terrain vehicles were allowed to drive in Highview Hill, a county-owned nature reserve, but that is no longer the case.
Johnston said Highview Hill was acquired by the nation through Kentucky Heritage Lands Conservation Funds to maintain the land as a nature preserve. Initially, all-terrain vehicles were allowed to use its trails, but Johnston said that didn’t work long term due to vehicle damage created in the park.
Although Johnston said he was not interested in trying to use Highview Hill for off-road vehicles again, he said he was open to the idea of a county off-road park .
“We’re always looking for land that we can do an ATV, UTV park on, but we don’t have it yet,” he said. “It requires a large space, 1,000 acres or so.”
Coots said she was contacted by Johnston on Wednesday and said a committee would likely be formed to explore the idea further.