Safety and legal concerns for Addis residents using off-road vehicles on streets and highways serve as a reminder that Addis is growing into a not-so-small town.
Police Chief Ricky Anderson said his policy since day one has been to allow off-road vehicles to “putt-putt” to and from cane fields on the side of the street. In a town sprinkled with sugarcane fields and few road shoulders, it is not uncommon to see residents driving off-road vehicles doing just that.
However, if a driver is unlicensed or uninsured, it is illegal for them to “putt-putt” anywhere. Drivers of off-road vehicles must carry a class E driver’s license, proof of insurance and vehicle registration when in use, Louisiana State Trooper Bryan Lee said.
According to Louisiana State Law, off-road vehicles, which are not specifically designated for road use, may travel on the shoulders of all public roads and highways except interstate highways solely for the purposes of farm-related activities within a five-mile radius of a farmer’s farm. Off-road vehicle use on streets and highways is also restricted to daylight hours.
In the past two months, the Addis Police Department has responded to two incidents involving off-road vehicles. In one incident, the driver of a Honda dirt bike was a minor possessing no license, insurance or license plate for the vehicle. The driver sustained minor injuries as a result of a collision with a truck. No citations were issued, according to the police report.
About a month later and a few streets over, a man on a Honda four-wheeler ran off of Foret Street after he veered to the right upon seeing a vehicle coming in the opposite direction. The four-wheeler crossed over a patch of ice and slammed into a telephone pole according to the police report.
Addis Hardware owner Bob Beauchamp said he sees off-road vehicles such as four-wheelers and mini-bikes “fly by” his store every day. Off-road vehicles driving on the streets did not bother him much, Beauchamp said, until one evening when he nearly hit someone driving without lights.
“They have no insurance, some of these kids have no drivers license, they don’t belong on the road anyway. What’s my position if I hit one, kill one, they damage my vehicle?” Beauchamp asked the Addis town council at the Jan. 3 meeting.
Councilwoman Rhonda Kelley said she reminds people of the law herself, having recently caught up with two people riding four-wheelers near her house to remind them to ride slowly on the side of the street
“When I hear them coming down my road I get in my car and I go after them,” Kelley said at the January meeting.
The Addis Police Department is responsible for enforcement, as laws are already in place Mayor David Toups said. The town receives few complaints regarding off-road vehicles, Anderson said but handles each one on an individual basis.
“There is no policy in this town for people to disobey the law,” Anderson said.
Upon the suggestion of Beauchamp, Mayor David Toups will issue a reminder to address safety and legal concerns regarding off-road vehicle use in the next issue of Vision West.