ARLINGTON, Va., April 13, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- Responsible Trails America (RTA) today released a comprehensive study of visible identification requirements for off-road vehicles (ORVs) in all 50 states. The study found that visible identification is a common solution at the state level to the growing national problem of private property trespass, habitat damage and conflict with other outdoor users caused by a minority of reckless ORV riders.
In total, RTA identified 37 states that require some form of identification to be affixed to the vehicle. Of those states, 12 require plates or large decals. However, registration programs and state-to-state reciprocity vary widely.
ORV riders directly benefit from visible identification programs in 27 states that direct registration fees back to their trails. In 22 states, riders contribute to law enforcement to prevent reckless riding from leading to trail closures. In 26 states, riders contribute to trail maintenance to preserve legal riding areas and repair the damages caused by the minority of reckless riders.
RTA also assessed each state based on five categories that covered visible identification standards, ORV oversight and benefits of registration fees for riders. Five states (Arizona, Nevada, New Mexico, Pennsylvania and Vermont) received an A+ grade. Thirteen states received a grade of 0. Seventeen states received grades in the C range (70-79).
Based on the study, RTA offered three recommendations to assist law enforcement, land managers, private property owners and responsible riders in more easily and safely identifying illegal riders:
- A national visible identification standard.
- Visible identification should be in the form of a plate or large decal and font on the identification at least 3 inches tall.
- The ORV industry should standardize a location on the vehicle for mounting plates or decals, preferably on the front and rear.
These recommendations are supported by a diverse group including law enforcement officers, farmers, ranchers and sportsmen.
Frank Adams of the Nevada Sheriffs' and Chiefs' Association said, "Nevada Sheriffs' and Chiefs' Association worked closely with the Nevada OHV community to develop our current law and we believe that when fully implemented it will be very helpful in dealing with the problems of theft of OHVs and it will go a long way in identifying those who participate in destructive acts on or off public lands."
Christopher Henney, Director of Legislative Relations, Ohio Farm Bureau Federation, said, "Farmers as a group rarely tend to want more government regulation. But the growing problem of trespassing caused by illegal riders spurred our membership into action to pass common-sense visible identification and ORV enforcement measures. We are proud that we were able to work with rider groups to find a solution that all sides could agree to."
The Gonzales family, third generation property owners in Sante Fe County, New Mexico endured reckless ORV riders cutting their fences, chasing cattle and leaving debris all over their private property. "It doesn't matter whether it is a plate or decal, what is important is that the identification is visible," said property owner Eleanor Gonzales. "The police could have tracked down the illegal riders if we had been able to photograph the IDs on their vehicles. I think that would have made them think twice before breaking the law."
"It's frustrating having a hunt ruined by people riding ATVs where off-road vehicle use is prohibited," said Holly Endersby, a hunter from western Idaho. "Many ATVs look the same so there's no way to identify violators when reporting the incident to law enforcement. There should be a requirement that off-road vehicles used on public lands have license plates or large decals. Any ATV user who follows the law and land management directives on where they can and can not use these machines should have no objection to this type of identification."
State Report Card - http://www.responsibletrails.org/images/2011visibleidstatechart.pdf
Responsible Trails America (RTA) is an independent research and advocacy project sponsored by the New Venture Fund, a charitable organization that also supports innovative public interest projects on global health, education and agriculture.
RTA works to give a voice to private property owners, sportsmen, ranchers, law enforcement officials, responsible ORV riders, and other outdoors users who support common-sense off-road vehicle law enforcement and management practices.
SOURCE Responsible Trails America