Hello all you wonderful people of the Teton Valley. It is a great time of year in the valley. The snow has melted in the lower regions and summer is on the way. I know Mother Nature (no we are not friends, so I cannot ask for favors, and no guarantees) will allow us some good weather. With this better weather comes many fun and exciting summer time activities. I cannot cover them all in one article so I will address some this week and you can expect more summer fun safety articles here and on the Teton County Sheriff’s facebook page.
Bicycles: I have already seen many bicyclists enjoying the weather and getting out on the roadways and trails. This means more responsibility for those driving motor vehicles. Coming out of the long winter months we have developed habits of only looking for cars and trucks while driving. Bicycles, Motorcycles, and more pedestrians are out and about now and we need to make sure to come to a complete stop at stop signs and look out for those smaller moving objects (people). Please slow at the yield signs and uncontrolled intersections, double checking for pedestrians and bicyclists.
Bicyclists, when you are out an about on public roadways, you have responsibilities as well. I want you to enjoy your ride and arrive safely at your destination. Bicyclists are required to follow ALL motor vehicle laws with one exception. At a stop sign a bicyclist is not required to come to a complete stop. They MUST SLOW and yield the right of way when applicable. They may not come up alongside a motor vehicle turning right and proceed straight. The motor vehicle will most likely not see them coming from behind and turn into you, which could cost you the rest of your bicycle riding season. Please use extreme caution while riding.
A Bicyclist is required to signal when turning just as motor vehicles are. When riding upon a sidewalk or along any roadway you must yield right of way to pedestrians. This will include a pedestrian crossing your path in a crosswalk. After the time of sunset you are required to have a light facing the front that can be seen from 500 feet and some type of reflector (a light is better) which is clearly, I will emphasize clearly, from the rear. Failure to comply with this rule you may be subject to a traffic infraction citation the same as a motor vehicle. This really is for your safety. We have over the past couple of years had vehicle verses bicycle accidents in the daylight. It is much harder to see you at night.
In my years of experience I have seen many bicycle accidents. Some of them were bicycle vs car or truck and others just drove or fell off the road or trail down an embankment. Those who have worn bicycle helmets have recovered much faster and with less injury than those who choose not to wear a helmet. Also, strive to be seen by choosing riding clothing that are visible to those driving motor vehicles. There is fashionable and functional clothing available for riding that will help make you more visible to drivers so everyone gets to their destinations safely.
As I and some of the other deputies patrol around for the benefit of everyone’s safety, we will at times be jealous or envious of you enjoying your day with a good ride. Feel free to stop and chat with us (rub it in) that you are enjoying your ride. You are responsible for your actions so ride responsible and safely please. The above laws are located in Idaho state statutes Title 49 chapter 7.
Motor Sports: I realize that we in our valley enjoy our motor sports which include ATV’s, UTV’s, Dirt Bikes, snowmobiles and other forms of off road vehicles. There are laws and rules put in place for the safety of those operating these machines. I will be going over in a general sense the laws and rules to be aware of so you and your children can continue to enjoy your motor sports.
I had a conversation a couple of years ago with a man who was letting his son, who is approximately 9-10 years old, ride his motorcycle around the block on the city streets. He was upset with me when I told him this was illegal. The recreation codes DO NOT supersede the law that all persons operating a MOTOR VEHICLE upon any State, County, City roadway must be licensed. So on the public roadways, please do not let your children use your motor sport vehicles. This is against the law and could possibly affect their ability to obtain a learners permit when they are old enough to apply. They are allowed to operate these vehicles on private property, recreational trails, and public land under supervision. In Idaho Code the supervision means you must be within 300 feet of them. This can be them driving around you or you on your own motor sport vehicle. Driving around the block out of your sight on City Street does not count. The other portion of this rule is that they may drive under supervision on the roadway while on the way to a recreation trail, or motor sport authorized area from a nearby parking area. They may also be supervised to get fuel if the fueling stations is within a reasonable distance on roadways with speed limits 45 MPH or under.
Whew, that was a lot. Your motor sport vehicle must also be properly registered with license or recreational sticker. If these current registration items are not properly visible the vehicle maybe stopped. While riding these vehicles all rules of the road are in effect with no exceptions as they are motorized vehicles. This will include complete stops at stops signs and control devices, use of turn signals, proper lights after sunset.
Okay, the last point to be made on having fun with your motor sports vehicles.
The helmet law. This law is very clear. Anytime someone under the age of 18 is on one of the vehicles mentioned above, they MUST have a helmet on. This includes while riding on private property. Those adults that want to give your grandchild a ride or let the kids ride their bike they all must have helmets on or you can receive a citation. Deputies will be contacting anyone who looks under the age of 18 and stopping them for not wearing a helmet.
I have been to accident scenes in the forest and on private property where serious injury occurred. One was a death from a simple a thing as picking apples. The ATV rolled over on them. I don’t want this to happen to anyone. I have called in life flight many times to these scenes when it could have been prevented by just having a helmet on.
Bottom line is be safe in your summer activities. Obey the rules so you will have many more fun memories and good times with your family and friends. We do care about you and your safety. Next week we will address water sports and issues to avoid there. Please play safe and enjoy the upcoming weather.