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Driving ATVs on state roads comes with strings attached

Sunrise on Nome council highway
Sunrise on Nome Council Highway. Photo by Brisa Alarcon, KNOM.

It will be legal to drive ATVs on state roads starting Jan. 1. In Nome, that means Front Street, Bering Street, Seppala Drive, Center Creek Road, and the Nome-Council Highway.

Driving ATVs on Nome city roads has been legal since 2008, with some basic requirements, such as having a driver’s license. The Nome Police Department explained in a Facebook post on Dec. 27 that the use of ATVs on state roads will be subject to further restrictions.

ATVs on state roads must be registered with the Department of Motor Vehicles and be equipped with front and back license plates. Anyone operating an ATV on a state road must also have liability insurance in accordance with AS 28.22.101. The maximum speed limit for ATVs on state roads is 45 mph, so it will not be legal to drive ATVs on any stretch of road with a higher speed limit. While ATV drivers will not be required to wear helmets on state roads, any passengers must. Finally, it is still not legal to operate a snowmachine or hovercraft on a state road.

The Nome Common Council discussed the upcoming change at its Nov. 8 meeting. The council seemed comfortable with the change.

“ATVs are kind of a way of life around here. … I think that unless there’s a problem, we should leave things as they are,” Mayor John Handeland commented.

Council Member Scot Henderson proposed setting up some safety workshops.

“Sometimes communities do it for motorcycles and things like that. Maybe there’s something that we can do. (It would) be a good way to interact with the community as well,” Henderson said.

The council has not taken any action on Henderson’s proposal thus far.

If you have any questions about the upcoming change to state law, please contact the Nome Police Department at (907)443-5262.

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story listed the Nome-Beltz-Teller Highway as one of the roads on which it is now legal to drive ATVs. However, since the speed limit on the Nome-Beltz-Teller Highway is 50 mph, and the maximum speed limit for ATVs on state roads is 45 mph, it is still not legal to drive ATVs on that road.

Image at top: Sunrise on the Nome-Council Highway. Photo by Brisa Ashley, KNOM.

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