5/4/05 Draft VI
All 83 Michigan county sheriffs received a mail survey in 2004 asking about their willingness to participate in ORV safety education on a basis similar to marine safety education. A copy of survey instrument is found in Appendix A. In 2004, 80 of 83 counties were involved in marine safety enforcement with the vast majority providing safety education using a classroom model with a standardized, mandatory and proctored classroom test. A total of 60 (72%) responded. Of those, 63% said they were interested in participating in such an ORV safety education program, 4% responded maybe, 25% were not interested and 7% didn’t respond to the question.
Of the 60 counties that responded, 16 participated in the 2003 ORV Law Enforcement Grant program. This is 76% of the counties 21 counties that participated in the ORV Law Enforcement Grant Program in 2003. Those responding and participating reported they spent an average of 77% of ORV patrol time on the designated ORV system trails, routes and areas, while the other 23% was spent at trailheads. Key ORV violations targeted by the participating sheriffs were: operation under the influence of drugs/alcohol, operation by a non-certified youth without adult supervision, trespass on private lands, ORV operation on public lands/roadways where prohibited and lack of an approved helmet/safety equipment. They cited public safety need, citizen concerns about trespass, increasing ORV use and increasing illegal ORV use on roadways as the key reasons for their participation in ORV enforcement. If additional money were available for county sheriff ORV enforcement, they would provide additional patrol hours or purchase new/appropriate ORV patrol equipment. A number questioned why certified police officers are needed for ORV patrol when for marine safety and snowmobile enforcement deputies with substantially less training are legally empowered to enforce a limited set of applicable laws. Further, many marine deputies are school teachers, who are also effective marine safety instructors, coupling knowledge of safe boating with professional teaching knowledge and educational skills from years of experience in their primary job. There was interest in a similar situation for ORV enforcement by some participating sheriffs.
Northern Michigan County Road Commission Managers A 2004 mail survey was conducted of the road commission managers of the northernmost 56 Michigan counties. A copy of survey instrument is found in Appendix A. Of these, 33 (59%) responded. A slight majority, 17 (52%) did not allow ORV use on any road shoulders, 10 allowed ORV use on all county road shoulders and 6 on some county road shoulders. A number were at pains to point out that these decisions were made by the county board of commissioners, not the road commission.
Of those counties that allowed no access to county roads, key concerns were liability, safety of ORV and other motor vehicle operators/occupants and additional road maintenance costs. Of those who allowed some access to road shoulders, the concerns mentioned above were weighed against the need/interest in connecting trail loops, promoting tourism through linking the designated system through targeted access routes to goods and services, cooperating with ORV organizations and achieving balance in the county between those supporting access to all road shoulders and those opposed to any access to road shoulders. For those counties that opened all county road shoulders for