August 16, 2022

Vehicles have different uses and abilities

With the state allowing more public use of ATVs and UTVs, an owner of both vehicles suggested determining what the vehicle will be intended for before purchasing.

“They are different in the purposes between them,” said Doug Wallace who owns each.

An ATV (all-terrain vehicle) is commonly known as a four-wheeler which does not have a cab and is steered like a bicycle with handles. A UTV is a larger vehicle and can have a cab, windshield, car-like steering wheel and cargo space.

Here’s what the state allowed starting July 1. Those who use those vehicles must be at least 18, have a valid driver’s license and show proof of insurance. The vehicle must have a working headlight at all times, tail, brake light, horn and rear view mirror. They can’t been driven faster than 35 mph. They can be driven at anytime.

The vehicles may be driven on two-lane state highways. Four-lane highways and interstates are not allowed. The vehicles can be driven across a four-lane highway intersection. They must be driven over the most direct and accessible route to and from an all-terrain park, trail, county road or authorized city street.

“ATVs have their own job,” Wallace said. “I think they are more recreational. There are some times and places you need something with more agility and able to fit in smaller places.”

Wallace said UTVs have a larger wheel base and are more stable. “You can carry things from buckets of feed, maybe a small square bale of hay or different tools,” he said.

The vehicles can be prohibited from county roads during special events in municipalities that include a large amount of traffic. All Iowa cities may regulate the operation of the vehicles within their city limits. A city can’t charge a fee for the vehicles to be driven on its streets.

“UTVs are more comfortable on a county road. I do use an ATV to get to a field or pasture, but you have to do that with caution because it’s smaller to see on county roads. Most ATVs do not have mirrors. Most UTVs do,” he said. “As more UTVs are in use, I would not be opposed to them being standard with turn signals and mirrors,” he said.

Wallace said he knows UTVs can also be treated as a recreational vehicle. He said UTVs are intended more for work because of their size, abilities and amenities.

“It’s almost like a small pickup,” he laughed. “They need to come with standard things for road use. Using them in town is different, but I think you still need turn signals. As this grows, they will become more popular.”

Iowa does offer ATV driving courses. According to the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, “ATV riders in the state of Iowa who are ages 12 through 17 are required to have taken and passed an ATV education course and have an education certificate in their possession when riding on public land, public ice, and designated riding areas and trails, if these areas are signed open to ATV use. This also applies to nonresident riders. The focus of the DNR ATV Education Program is to provide an education course that reduces the rate of accidents, injuries, property damage, and fatalities, while at the same time promoting the development of environmental stewards by educating our students about environmental concerns, energy conservation and proper maintenance of ATVs, and promoting the practice of only riding in legal areas and with landowner permission. The DNR has collaborated with Fresh Air Educators to make an online certification offering available for the ATV Education Program. The curriculum underwent a thorough review with industry leaders as well as representatives from numerous state agencies responsible for ATV safety education. State-specific information regarding riding opportunities, laws, and regulations is a component of the course.

This is a managed course which features interactive exercises for students as well as narrated content to assist with different learning styles. The study guide is free to all users, as well as Chapter 1 of the course. In order to progress past Chapter 1, students will be required to register for the course. The course fee is $34.95, which includes the $5 DNR fee for the education certificate. Students must pass a chapter quiz in order to progress to the next chapter and must pass a final exam with 80% accuracy to earn their certificate. There is no riding component for this course.

Topics covered by the course include, but are not limited to, parts of the machine and how they work, riding positions and when to use them, safety gear, personal responsibility, and conservation principles.

Upon successful completion of the course, students will be able to download their ATV Education Certificate and be ready to hit the trails. Students must be 12 or older to earn their ATV education certificate through”

John Van Nostrand


An Iowa native, John's newspaper career has mostly been in small-town weeklies from the Rocky Mountains to the Mississippi River. He first stint in Creston was from 2002 to 2005.