Utility vehicles that landscapers and others use to transport materials, tools and themselves around job sites may soon become street legal — at least in Corpus Christi, Texas, according to a story aired by KRIS-TV and posted on the station’s website.
Golf carts are allowed in some cities on public streets. But the law is not as clear-cut when it comes to utility vehicles, which are larger, more equipped and probably safer.
“Every UTV that we sell has a shoulder strap,” Matt Werkhoven, general manager of Corpus Christi Cycle Plaza and Joyride Rental Co. on Padre Island told the station’s reporter. “It has a waist strap. You know; it's certified seat belts on the unit that guarantee a safe operation.”
The story says that, after years of driving utility vehicles around the island, residents recently complained about being stopped and ticketed by police. But the officers did nothing wrong — the current city ordinance in Corpus Christi allows for golf carts to be operated on streets in certain areas of the city with speed limits no more than 35 miles per hour. UTVs are not included in that ordinance.
A recent change in state law now allows cities to regulate utility vehicles in the same way.
Werkhoven told KRIS 6 News that there are benefits to making UTVs street legal. “I think for tourism, for just the people that live out here and anybody that is in the surrounding community, a lot of people have UTVs. They have them for ranches. They have them for work. They have them for just various reasons.”
The vehicles were reportedly a hot topic during public comment at a recent Island Strategic Action Committee meeting. Police officers addressed committee members and urged the community to make their voices heard about the issue. Werkhoven hopes the recent talks will be enough to motivate the city to update the ordinance.
“This change is hopefully going to put to rest the endless debate of, 'Are UTVs legal? Are they allowed? Is it a gray area?’” Werkhoven says in the story.
Any change would have to be recommended by city staff and then approved by the council, according to the story. People in favor of the change hope the city will take action by September 1 when the new state law on utility vehicles goes into effect.