Allowing minitrucks, ATVs in small towns makes sense
The state may be united when it comes to football, but there are some things about which there's definitely not "One Nebraska."
One example of where one size does not fit all is in what types of vehicles can be used in small towns.
Law enforcement often looks the other way when golf carts or other unauthorized vehicles make short trips on streets, especially in small towns and when the drivers may have handicaps of one type or other that make it impossible for them to drive conventional vehicles.
The Legislature codified the situation a couple of years ago, when it provided towns with the option of allowing ATVs to be operated on their streets. So far, a dozen or fewer towns have done so.
We can see how that might work in Bartley, for example, where it might be the quickest way for a farmer or hunter to get to the field, but a nightmare in Omaha, where the low-slung vehicles would create deadly traffic hazards.
Sen. Mark Christensen of Imperial and two other senators have introduced legislation to study whether to allow minitrucks and other off-road vehicles to operate on at least some roads.
If you haven't seen the minitrucks, you might not know what they are talking about. The tiny imported vehicles usually have a flatbed making them handy for carrying small loads around factory grounds or other private property. Visitors to the McCook airport may have noticed one on ramp duty. A hearing is set Sept. 11 on LR143, to study whether to allow minitrucks to be used on a limited type of road. About a dozen states have passed similar laws in response to the availability of the vehicles.
While safety experts are alarmed about use of off-road vehicles on public streets, proponents see them as providing an important service for elderly or disabled people who can't get in and out of cars.
Golf carts or four-wheel ATVs with roll cages, bench seats and steering wheels provide a viable alternative, they say.
Also covered would be golf cart-like neighborhood electric vehicles, which we believe could be of great use in Southwest Nebraska towns like McCook.
Relaxing the law to allow limited, safe use of alternative vehicles, especially in small towns with light traffic, seems like a reasonable thing to do.