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Bethel police to hold ATV safety meeting Aug. 6

Dean Swope

Bethel police are working to educate the public about new regulations governing the use of ATVs on roads in Bethel. The ordinance, which was codified in July, requires ATV riders to follow the same registration requirements and rules of the road as any other vehicle.

In part to help walk the community through these new rules, police are holding an event outside the Yupiit Piciryarait Cultural Center in Bethel this Saturday, Aug. 6 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

“We're there to educate them, and no one's getting in trouble or anything of that nature." Bethel Police Department Lt. Poole said. "We just need them to know what they need in order for them to be legal in the future."

The ordinance requires ATV riders to register their vehicle with the DMV, obtain a driver's license, follow traffic laws, and wear a helmet. You’re also required to carry liability insurance, and only certain types of ATVs can legally carry passengers. Those rules apply to all roads in Bethel, not just the highway. That includes the side of the road too.

Poole said that officers will be passing out pamphlets that outline the new rules and answering any questions folks might have. People can drive up with their ATVs and talk through the steps they need to take to follow the regulations without fear of getting in trouble.

“There's a lot of people that come from villages that they have different laws, there's a lot of towns in Alaska where they don't even have to have insurance or registration to drive a motor vehicle on the road," Poole said. "So these people don't know that here in Bethel, all the laws that exist on the road system exist here. There are no exceptions."

The pamphlets police are distributing also contain safety information about appropriate riding gear, emergency supplies, and other helpful information. Poole said that Bethel police are hoping to build compliance leading up to the winter, and will be giving out new water bottles to anyone who attends the event on Aug. 6.

Will McCarthy is a temporary news reporter at KYUK. Previously, he worked as a furniture mover, producer, and freelance journalist. Will's written for the New York Times, National Geographic, and Texas Monthly. He holds a master's degree in journalism from UC Berkeley.