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Burleigh County discussion continues on off-road vehicle safety protocol

Published: Oct. 21, 2021 at 7:01 PM CDT
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BISMARCK, N.D. (KFYR) - There are nearly 38,000 registered Off-Highway Vehicles (OHVs) in the state of North Dakota with almost 4,000 in Burleigh County, according to North Dakota Parks and Recreation. The rules that dictate where and how an OHV user can ride can be found in the North Dakota Century Code, but some want these laws updated.

Ditch-riding is popular, especially among juvenile riders, but landowners are concerned about safety as they see riders zip over approaches.

“The issue I am more concerned on is if I am pulling out to the highway. I have had many near misses with ATVs and motorcycles,” said Burleigh County resident Zach Pates at the commission meeting Monday.

As kids zoom out of sight, parents have additional fears of hazards left in ditches.

“My oldest has a really bad accident because of the chicken wire because it all got wrapped up in his dirt bike,” said Burleigh County Resident Stacey Castleman.

North Dakota Parks and Recreation reports 16 accidents in Burleigh County, including five collisions in the last two years. The Burleigh County Sheriff’s Department has performed 23 service calls about OHVs this year.

“There are laws on the books. We could regulate intensely and add more laws to the books, but we can’t control behavior and it is harder to control with juveniles,” said Burleigh County Sheriff’s Department public information officer Jim Hulm.

Riders, landowners, law enforcement, and local government considered the logistics of updating OHV protocols.

“If they had to stop at every approach, would they still ride?” asked Burleigh County vice chair Jim Peluso.

Commissioners’ hands are somewhat tied.

“This is really a state-wide issue and we as one county board, we can do something, but can we do it overnight? No. It’s going to take two, three, maybe longer years,” said Burleigh County chairwoman Kathleen Jones.

Chairwoman Jones encouraged residents to bring the issue to legislators.

In the meantime, the ditches remain open to riders.

North Dakota law requires riders 12 to 15 to take a safety certification class before operating OHVs through OHVs trails and ditches. North Dakota Parks and Recreation offers certification and registration courses.

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