June is ATV Traffic Safety Month in Alaska, and the City of Nome is reminding everyone of what it takes to stay alive while you drive in Western Alaska.
Nome City Manager Glenn Steckman explained to the Public Safety Advisory Committee on Monday, June 5 what it takes to be legal and safe on Nome’s roadways.
“While you’re allowed under state law to ride an ATV on state roads, you are required to have a license plate and insurance, and you are your child is required to wear a helmet,” Steckman said. “You also are not allowed to carry more than the vehicle is designed for.”
It’s important to note that a child under the age of 16, unless overseen by an adult, cannot be on an ATV by him or herself.
Starting this month, Steckman said Nome Police Department will begin reaching out to ATV drivers who are observed not following the law.
“The police department is going to be emphasizing this through the month of June, and then really enforcing it in July,” Steckman said. “If you drive around town, it’s astounding the number of people operating ATVs that are not following state or city regulations.”
Alaska’s death rate from traumatic brain injuries tops the nation, according to the Alaska Department of Health. Steckman says Nome is not readily equipped to deal with those types of injuries.
“One of the reasons why we’re doing this, the (police) chief and I have both seen unsafe operation of ATVs,” Steckman said. “Alaska has the highest number of traumatic brain injuries in the United States. We really don’t have the facilities up here to deal very quickly with a traumatic brain injury.”
Steckman says warnings will come first, with citations to follow in July, adding, “We’re going to go in with education and warnings before we start giving citations.”
The Alaska Highway Safety Office provides publication, statistics and links related to ATV and snowmachine safety in the state.
Image at top: An ATV rider cruises down a street in Nome on Wednesday, June 7. Photo by Ava White/KNOM