As another grand season is about to begin for those who love to operate ATVs and UTVs, much of which occurs today on town, city and county roadways, it should be noted that the Wisconsin Legislature has failed to bring equality between motorists by requiring proof of insurance across the board.

It’s been a few years since the Legislature passed a law mandating that motor vehicles in Wisconsin be insured to certain minimum levels. The minimum amount of liability coverage is $10,000 for property damage, $25,000 for the injury or death of one person and $50,000 for the injury or death of more than one person.

For some reason the law does not require insurance coverage for other motorized vehicles that use paved roads extensively, an issue that came to light the past three years as more municipalities opened their roadways to travel by ATVs and UTVs.

State officials with the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) have confirmed that there is no law mandating insurance for ATVs and UTVs that are being operated on road-based routes across the state.

The problem with the state’s oversight in not protecting roadway users from this new potential for accidents, injury and even death is mostly an equality issue. If mandated insurance was right for registered vehicles and their drivers, why is it not mandated for registered ATVs and UTVs that are using the same roadways?

Looking at the 2018 Wisconsin ATV/UTV fatality summary, which was compiled by the DNR, there appears to be enough user volume on roadways to warrant state action toward mandatory insurance.

Of the 27 ATV/UTV fatalities that occurred last year, 12 involved operation on a public road. The total included eight rollovers and four collisions with fixed objects. The story was even worse the previous year, when 17 of the 27 fatalities involved mishaps on public roadways.

We believe it’s time the Legislature deals with this liability oversight, this inequity among the owners of motorized vehicles, by mandating insurance coverage on all ATVs and UTVs that are driven on public roadways.

Retiring city police chief was effective, helpful

Eagle River Police Chief Mark Vander Bloomen retired last month after 11 years of service to the city, and his quiet, effective leadership will be sorely missed.

Vander Bloomen’s solution-oriented style was ideal for the city and its experienced police department. He was a team player who got the job done without fanfare and with little controversy, for we can’t recall a negative comment or letter to the editor in all those years.

Proof that he listened to the people, the city council and community organizations was visible in his work, from the removal of parking meters to innovative changes in traffic flow patterns during major events. He was also a volunteer at community events, a big bonus for this tourism-based city. We thank him for his years of service to Eagle River.

Behind the editorial ‘we’

  Members of the Vilas County News-Review editorial board include Publisher Kurt Krueger, Editor Gary Ridderbusch and Assistant Editor Michelle Drew.