Alaska Gives Special Treatment to ATVs While Dunking on Hovercrafts and Snowmobiles; Not Cool, Alaska

Alaska is probably the closest thing Americans still have to the Wild West of yore. This vast, open country is home to some of the toughest folks our country has to offer, yet the state is still making laws about vehicle legality. Vehicle regulation is a good thing; it’s just strange coming from Alaska. In 2022, ATVs will be road legal in Alaska, but hovercrafts and snowmobiles will still be contraband on public roads. 

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Are ATVs road legal? 

According to the Anchorage Daily News, starting in 2022, ATVs and “other all-purpose vehicles” will be road legal on public roads with a speed limit of 45 mph. Even with the new law, local governments can still prohibit their use in certain places. 

While this ATV and Side-by-Side legalization seem a bit overdue in a place like Alaska, the use of hovercrafts and snowmachines are still prohibited. Honestly, limiting the use of any vehicle in Alaska seems a bit strange, but then again, much of the state is still pretty wild, so public road laws are likely of little consequence to many residents. 

Anchorage will continue its municipal ban on ATVs and other recreational vehicles of the sort. However, many other cities and boroughs around Alaska lack similar rules, and places like the Fairbanks North Star Borough and Matanuska-Susitna Borough lack policing and road authority, making it impossible to create local bans. 

ATVs and other vehicles must get dressed up to get on the road

Just like in most of America, for ATVs to join the rest of polite society on the public roads, they have to come correct. The new law states that ATVs must have a headlight, a rear-facing red light, a rear-facing red reflector, and a rear-facing red brake light. The vehicle must also have brakes, a muffler, a carburetor, and a throttle. 

Furthermore, all riders must also have a valid driver’s license and insurance. Although ATV riders are not required to wear a helmet, for some reason, passengers are required to wear a helmet. 

For vehicles like side-by-sides that have seatbelts from the factory, a seatbelt must be worn at all times. For these vehicles, children must also be in an appropriate car seat. 

Lastly, all vehicles must be registered with the correct license plates. 

Former Public Safety Commissioner Amanda Price recently spoke out on social media. She said her department speculates that the idea to legalize ATVs came from a close friend of the governor or a donor to his campaign. She went on to mention that people within the department warned that the new law would likely result in an increase in road deaths. 

In April, the Department of Public Safety and Department of Administration told the Alaska Legislature that the goal was “to provide Alaskans the greatest opportunity to safely and affordably travel throughout the state.” 

Many public safety officials have spoken out against the new law calling it reckless and clearly dangerous. While snowmobiles and hovercrafts aren’t legalized yet, legislation will likely pass in spring to include these recreational vehicles on the road-legal list. 

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