Oregon Council OKs regulation of certain types of vehicles

Kelly J. Kaczala

        Oregon City Council recently passed an ordinance that amends the traffic code to allow street legal golf carts, UTVs, and other authorized vehicles to drive on city streets within the jurisdiction of Oregon.
        It establishes a new chapter of the municipal code titled, “Operation of low-speed vehicles, under-speed vehicles, and utility vehicles on city streets.
        Council President Tim Zale said “We’ve been talking about this for a long time,” said Council President Tim Zale. “I’m glad we came to a conclusion on this.”
        The use of low-speed, under-speed and utility vehicles has increased as a means of alternative transportation in recent years. To provide safe and lawful use of the vehicles on the streets, the city wanted to adopt rules governing the use and operation of them.
        Low-speed vehicles are described as three or four wheeled motor vehicles with an attainable speed in one mile on a paved level surface of more than 20 mph, but not more than 25 mph, with a Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) of less than 400,000 lbs.
         The GVWR is the maximum weight of a vehicle, as specified by the manufacturer. GVWR includes total vehicle weight plus fluids, passengers, and cargo, according to the department of energy.
        Under-speed vehicles are three or four wheeled vehicles, including a vehicle commonly known as a golf cart, with an attainable speed of not more than 20 mph and a GVWR of less than 300,000 lbs.
        Utility vehicles are self-propelled vehicles designed with a bed, principally for the purpose of transporting material or cargo in connection with construction, agriculture, forestry, grounds, maintenance, lawn and garden, materials handling, or similar activities.
        Assistant Police Chief Ryan Spangler said the vehicles were not allowed on the road before council amended the traffic code.
        “Basically, you can’t drive these vehicles on the roads unless there are rules that allow it,” he said.
        There were many residents in the South Shore Park area that wanted the amendment, as well as some in the Drake subdivision, and Eagle’s Landing.
        “Basically, they want to be able to travel around the city,” he said. Some residents, he added, want to be able to drive around the town center as new developments are completed.
        “We were getting calls from the public who wanted to be able to legally license these types of vehicles and drive them on city streets,” added City Administrator Joel Mazur.
        All public streets in the jurisdiction of the city with a speed limit of 35 mph or less may be used for the operation of low-speed and under-speed vehicles with the exception of Navarre Avenue/State Route 2, Woodville Road/State Route 51, Wynn Road, and Corduroy Road. Low-speed and under-speed vehicles may cross over these roads. However, they are prohibited from driving along them.
        They are not allowed on a roadway that is more than 35 mph. Wynn Road is the city’s designated truck route. “We felt it was not a safe area,” said Spangler..
        All public streets in the jurisdiction of the city with a speed limit of 35 mph or less may be used for the operation of utility vehicles.
        All under-speed and/or utility vehicles must have the following: Working headlights, at least one working taillight and two working brake lights, directional signals, rearview mirror, a white light illuminating the rear license plate legible from a distance of 50 feet, a working horn, a windshield made of glass or safety glass, one license plate in the rear bracket to the cart, and one seat belt per occupant.
Safety features
        Police Chief Brandon Begin said low-speed vehicles do not have to be inspected, though they should be properly plated.
        “Low speed vehicles – which can travel between 20-25 mph, come manufactured with certain safety features. They are titled as a low-speed vehicle. They cannot be titled as a low-speed vehicle without having those safety features on there, so we do not have to inspect them as a police department. The under-speed vehicles, which are commonly golf carts limited to under 20 mph, and utility vehicles, have to be inspected by an officer to ensure they have all the safety features as required by state law. Then they have to fill out a state form and take it to a title agency and the BMV to have them plated. But the low-speed vehicles don’t have to do this because they come from the manufacturer with those safety features already on them, or they would not have that designation.
        “A great deal of thought went into this,” said Mazur. “The Oregon staff, Mayor and City Council all collaborated to create this ordinance that now provides the gift of freedom for residents to drive UTVs and low-speed vehicles throughout Oregon with a few reasonable restrictions. I believe that this truly was the best decision on this matter.”


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