Washington County sheriff's deputies have responded to complaints or stopped several ATV and UTV drivers in the month of June, according to Washington County sheriff's reports.
Also in recent weeks, two serious accidents with an ATV or UTV have occurred within or around Washington County. On May 26, an Omaha man was taken to the hospital in serious condition after an ATV accident south of Blair where he wasn't wearing a helmet. On June 8, a Tekamah-Herman junior high student was killed in a UTV accident outside of Craig.
Though Sheriff Mike Robinson said he wouldn't call unlawful ATV and UTV use an issue in the county, he did say the sheriff's office does often see young children, often without helmets and as young as 10, driving the vehicles.
"We've seen very young kids," he said. "To me, that's very irresponsible to allow these kids on the county roads that aren't even old enough to drive."
In Washington County, ATV and UTVs can be used on county roads for farming purposes if the driver and vehicle have the proper licenses and insurance. ATVs and UTVs can be driven by people with valid licenses or permits when the vehicles are insured and when they have an orange flag 6 feet above the ground. Robinson also said the vehicles can be operated in road ditches.
Each Washington County community has its own ordinance for ATV and UTV use.
In Blair, Police Chief Joe Lager said ATVs and golf carts aren't allowed on city streets. UTVs are allowed as long as they are operated in accordance with city ordinances.
Some ordinance requirements indicate people operating UTVs aren't allowed to cross highways more than two lanes wide at intersections controlled by traffic signals, they can't be operated on highways more than two lanes wide and they must be operated by people 18 years or older with a valid license. Vehicles must also be issued an identification tag by the Blair Police Department.
In Arlington, both ATVs and UTVs are allowed. Drivers must also be at least 18 years old with a valid license and insurance on the vehicle and may not operate the vehicles on or cross a highway with more than two marked traffic lanes. Drivers must also wear a helmet unless they are in a UTV with operational seat belts, which then must be used.
In Fort Calhoun, ATVs, UTVs and golf carts may be operated by drivers who are 16 years or older with a valid license and, while operating on the highway, be able to show proof of insurance. Vehicles must be registered with the city clerk and drivers must wear a helmet unless the vehicles have operational seat belts, which must then be used. Vehicles must also have flags, day-glow in color, at least 5 feet above the ground attached.
Additional information regarding ATV, UTV and golf cart laws in Blair, Arlington and Fort Calhoun can be found on the communities' websites.
Robinson said deputies will enforce the rules and regulations of ATV, UTV and golf cart use throughout the county when they see it.
"We've always had that, I don't want to say that's an issue or say it's anything," he said. "It's when you get young kids, kids under 16, out for a joy ride on a county road, that's against the law."