BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    

                                                                  AB 1595
                                                                  Page  1

          Date of Hearing:   April 23, 2012

                               Bonnie Lowenthal, Chair
                     AB 1595 (Cook) - As Amended:  March 29, 2012
          SUBJECT  :  Vehicles: recreational off-highway vehicles

           SUMMARY :  Defines a "recreational off-highway vehicle" (ROHV) 
          and establishes requirements for their operation.   
          Specifically,  this bill  :  

             1)   Defines ROHVs as a motor vehicle that: 

               a)     Is designed by the manufacturer for operation 
                 primarily off of the highway;

               b)     Has a steering wheel for steering control;

               c)     Has non-straddle seating provided for the operator 
                 and all passengers; and,

               d)     Has maximum manufacturer-designed speed capability 
                 of 30 miles per hour (mph) or more but can be modified to 
                 reach speeds greater than 30 mph.  

             2)   Adds ROHVs to the list of off-highway motor vehicles 
               subject to Department of Motor Vehicle (DMV) identification 

             3)   Establishes requirements for the operation of ROHVs 

               a)     The requirement that a person operating an ROHV be 
                 at least 16 years old or be directly supervised in the 
                 vehicle by a parent, guardian, or adult authorized by a 
                 parent or guardian;  

               b)     The requirement that passengers in ROHVs wear 
                 specified safety helmets;

               c)     The requirement that operators and passengers in 
                 ROHVs wear seatbelts and shoulder belts or safety 
                 harnesses that are properly fastened when the vehicle is 


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               d)     The requirement that all passengers occupy seats 
                 provided by the manufacturer; and,

               e)     The requirement that ROHV operators not allow 
                 passengers to grasp occupant handholds unless the 
                 passenger is seated upright with his or her back against 
                 the seatback and both feet flat on the floor.  

             4)   Makes related, clarifying changes.  

           EXISTING LAW  :

          1)Defines off-highway vehicles (OHVs) as vehicles such as racing 
            motorcycles, trail bikes, mini bikes, dune buggies, 
            all-terrain vehicles, jeeps, and snowmobiles that are operated 
            exclusively off public roads and highways.  
          2)Prohibits vehicles registered as OHVs from being operated on 
            public streets.  

          3)Requires certain OHVs to display an identification plate or 
            device issued by DMV.  

          4)Generally prohibits operation of an all-terrain vehicle (ATV) 
            on public lands by person under the age of 18.  

          5)Requires the Department of Parks and Recreation to adopt 
            courses, in consultation with the California Department of 
            Highway Patrol (CHP) and other public and private agencies and 
            organizations with regard to OHV safety, operation, and 
            principles of environmental preservation.  

          6)Prohibits a person from driving an OHV at a speed greater than 
            is reasonable or prudent and establishes a prima facie speed 
            limit of 15 mph within 50 feet of any concentration of people 
            or animals.  

          7)Establishes certain criteria for ATVs including safety 
            training courses and certain age restrictions for their 
            operation and use.  

          8)Requires persons operating ATVs on state lands to wear an 
            approved motorcycle safety helmet.  

           FISCAL EFFECT  :  Unknown


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           COMMENTS  :  By introducing AB 1595, the author intends to define 
          ROHVs as a distinct and separate class of vehicles and establish 
          specific requirements governing their safe operation and use.  
          The sponsor, the Recreational Off-Highway Vehicle Association 
          (ROHVA), indicates that the two primary reasons for 
          distinguishing these vehicles is that ROHVs handle differently 
          from ATVs, which are maneuvered by rider-movement (i.e., griping 
          the handle bars and leaning into turns in a saddle-type seat).  
          ROHVs operate more like a standard car, where the driver and 
          passengers sit in full seats and the vehicle is maneuvered using 
          a steering wheel.  The sponsor indicates that because these 
          vehicles are relatively new and different, there are no laws 
          that directly govern their safe operation.  By defining these 
          vehicles in law and specifically describing operational 
          requirements, rangers at recreational vehicle areas around the 
          state will have a basis for enforcing of safety and vehicle 
          identification requirements for ROHVs.  

          Specifically, this bill would define an ROHV as a motor vehicle 
          that is designed by the manufacturer for operation primarily 
          off-road that has a steering wheel for steering control, 
          non-straddle seating for the driver and passengers, and has a 
          maximum speed capability of greater than 30 miles per hour (mph) 
          but also allows for maximum speed capability of greater than 30 
          miles per hour if the vehicle has been modified.  With regard to 
          speed requirements, the sponsor notes that ROHVs, by definition, 
          can achieve speeds of greater than 30 mph; however, speeds at 
          recreational vehicle areas are individually established for 
          conditions as appropriate.  The sponsor also notes that 
          modifications for higher speeds are primarily carried out to 
          allow operators to participate in sanctioned racing events.  

          The operational guidelines for ROHVs, as provided for in this 
          bill, are based on reports by U.S. consumer Product Safety 
          Commission (CPSC) that show that the most common injury 
          accidents for ROHVs result when riders and passengers fail to 
          wear seatbelts and safety.  Studies analyzing the CPSC data also 
          showed that in addition to not wearing safety helmets and seat 
          belts, under-age driving, driving on paved surfaces, and driving 
          at excessive speeds also contributes to accidents.  To address 
          these factors, operational requirements for ROHVs described in 
          this bill include the requirement that ROHV operators be at 


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          least age 16 years old, unless they are directly supervised by a 
          parent or guardian or by and adult authorized by a parent or 
          guardian.  The bill also requires that all persons operating or 
          riding in ROHVs must wear safety helmets meeting requirements 
          established for motorcycles or motorized bicycles and that 
          operators and passengers must wear seatbelts and shoulder belt 
          or safety harnesses that are properly fastened when the ROHV is 
          in motion.  The bill further specifies that persons operating 
          ROHVs must not allow passengers to sit in areas other than 
          designated seats provided by the manufacturer and that 
          passengers be prohibited from holding occupant handholds unless 
          the passenger can do so with his or her seatbelt and safety 
          harness fastened while seated upright with his or her back 
          against the seat and both feet flat on the floor.  

          Writing in support of the legislation, the Kawasaki Motors Corp, 
          notes that this bill would help to establish safety requirements 
          for ROHV use and promote and ensure responsible and safe use of 
          these vehicles.  They point out that AB 1595, by including the 
          definition of ROHVs in law, the bill will help to define both 
          the vehicle and rules of safe operation that will serve as 
          guidance for counties and cities in the management of their ROHV 
          areas.  Kawasaki also notes that the bill will also lead to 
          statewide enforcement consistency.  


          Recreational Off-Highway Vehicle Association (Sponsor)
          Kawasaki Motors Corporation

          None on file

          Analysis Prepared by  :   Victoria Alvarez / TRANS. / (916) 319-