Yakima is looking at requiring liability insurance for ATVs used on city streets

A decision to allow all cars on the streets of Yakima did not raise many problems, but said the traffic police Lt. Ira Cavin should require driver insurance.

The Yakima City Council passed an ordinance in 2021 allow ATVs and UTVs to be driven on city streets where the speed limit is 35 mph or less.

Drivers must have a valid driver’s license and follow the rules of the road, but Cavin told the Yakima City Council on Tuesday that they are not. Drivers are required to carry current insurance.

“I think we should work, maybe, with the city staff and the legal staff and see if they can come back with an amendment to the ordinance that clearly states that they have to carry liability insurance, ” said Cavin. “Because, of course, it can cause a problem when they are on the road, just like other people.”

The council instructed the staff to draft the change and bring it back for approval.

Cavin said a change is needed, but otherwise the decision to allow ATVs and UTVs on the roads is a good one. While police officers in the traffic division are conducting training stops, they are not seeing any conflicts or illegal activities, he said.


Cavin said there was only one pursuit and accident involving UTVs around 2022. Two men were killed in the a UTV crash after a high speed chase in October. Both men were wearing seat belts but no helmets, according to Yakima police.

No other ATV or UTV accidents on public roads have been reported since the law went into effect, Cavin said.

He said that people who use cars have an increased risk of injury. Although UTVs handle like cars, cars aren’t built to absorb the impact of a crash, Cavin said. There is a higher risk of injury for ATV or UTV drivers, even in accidents that would leave the driver of a normal vehicle unscathed, he said.

“That’s on the UTV operator to make that decision to go on the road,” he said.

Drivers are required to wear a helmet while driving, unless the vehicle has seat belts, tires or part of the the passenger, per city guidelines.

Stop the car

According to Cavin, the brakes of ATV and UTV vehicles usually come from a situation where a UTV driver is on a road with speeds higher than 35 mph.

“It’s always an educational connection,” Cavin said.

Drivers may not know the speed limit for ATVs and UTVs and need to plan an alternate driving route, Cavin said. The drivers are usually in the West Valley, coming home or coming back, he said.

Other stops have been made because of noise, Cavin said.

“A lot of those UTVs have speakers out there,” he said. “It’s a normal car with windows and doors and storage for the music they’re listening to inside. With them, especially, they don’t.”

A map showing the routes where ATVs or UTVs can be driven within the city is available on the city’s website.

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