St. Louis County to allow ATVs on all roads and highways

In Minnesota, you have to be at least 16 to drive a car but if the St. Louis County Board gets its way, a 12-year-old will be able to drive on the highway and any other road as long as s(he) is on an ATV.

The Duluth News Tribune reports a full committee of the board has passed the ordinance that allows ATVs on all county roads and highways, gravel or blacktop, as long as they comply with posted speed limits.

That could set off a bit of a showdown with Duluth, which bans ATV on all roads and city property. The County Board says it has jurisdiction over county roads within the city.

There are obvious safety concerns, but the News Tribune says board members think it’ll be good for tourism and business.

Some commissioners questioned why the St. Louis County ordinance will allow ATVs to drive up to the posted speed limit, even 55 mph, while other counties have lower speed limits for ATVs. Others also questioned why the ordinance will allow 12- to-15-year-old ATV drivers with a safety certificate and parental supervision to drive that fast on county roads. State law currently allows those young drivers to operate on their own in areas wherever ATVs are allowed.

As the ordinance is now written, ATVs would be able to drive at whatever speed is posted for cars and trucks, which raised concerns among some board members.

“Is there another example of where 12-year-olds are allowed on roads with motor vehicles driving up to 55 mph?” Commissioner Frank Jewell of Duluth asked, adding that he hoped education and enforcement efforts could keep up with the increase in ATV on roads.

Jewell also said he expects conflicts on county roads that run from cities into suburban and rural areas that don’t have wide shoulders or good site lines, such as Howard Gnesen Road running north out of Duluth.

It’ll be up to the ATV riders to determine what’s a safe speed, given road conditions.

“Government will never be a substitute for good parenting,” Commissioner Keith Nelson said.

Most ATV deaths in Minnesota occur on roads.

Related: Family Mourns Loss Of Boy, 5, After ATV Accident (WCCO)

Minnesota boy killed in ATV crash; people respond ‘saying so many mean things’ (Grand Forks Herald)