The Pennsylvania Motor Vehicle Code (PVC) governs the operation of all-terrain vehicles (ATVs) in Pennsylvania. However, certain ATV-type vehicles used exclusively for agricultural purposes may be given broader allowance for use on or along side roads than what is allowed normally for ATVs. This document summarizes the major regulations regarding the use of ATV-type vehicles on and off the farm.
The PVC generally defines an ATV as a “motorized off-highway vehicle which travels on three or more inflatable tires.” The Vehicle Code has established two main classes of ATVs. A Class I ATV is an ATV that is 50 inches or less in width and 1,000 pounds in dry weight. A Class II ATV is either greater than 50 inches in width or greater than 1,000 pounds in dry weight (PVC § 7702).
A “multipurpose agricultural vehicle” (MAV) is defined as a “motor vehicle which is 62 inches or less in width and 2,000 pounds or less in dry weight and which is used exclusively for agricultural operations and only incidentally operated or moved upon the highways.” The types of vehicles that could qualify as a MAV include, but are not limited to, many vehicles whose type and function resemble that of an ATV.
Registration and Titling of Vehicle:
ATV-type vehicles that do not qualify as a MAV: The vehicle must have a certificate of title (PVC §§ 7712.1, 1102), and must be registered with the Commonwealth at a fee of $20 for two years (PVC §§ 7711.1, 7715.2).
ATV-type vehicles that qualify as a MAV: The vehicle is not required to be titled (PVC § 1102), and is exempt from registration requirements unless it is operated on a highway more than five miles from the farm (PVC §1302).
ATV-type vehicles that do not qualify as a MAV:
1. Operation on public roads: ATVs may not be operated on any public street or highway, unless the road has been designated as authorized for ATV use. Persons under 16 are not allowed to operate an ATV on any roads designated for ATV use unless the person holds a valid safety certificate from PA (or another state or province) and is being directly supervised by a person at least 18 years of age (PVC § 7725).
2. Crossing public roads not designated for ATV use: Persons may only drive an ATV across a road at a 90 degree angle, after the operator has brought the vehicle to a complete stop and has yielded to all oncoming traffic. (PVC § 7721). Also, driving an ATV across a road is prohibited altogether whenever the operator does not hold a valid safety certificate from PA (or another state or province) and whenever the operator is under 16 years of age and is not being directly supervised by a person 18 years of age (PVC § 7725).
3. Operation of ATVs by persons 8-15 years of age: Persons in this age group may only operate an ATV if: (1) The person has been safety-certified by PA (or another state or province); (2) The ATV is being operated on land owned or leased by the person’s parent or guardian; or (3) The person is operating ATV during a safety training course under the direct supervision of a certified safety instructor. Persons 8 and 9 years of age are additionally prohibited from operating ATVs with engines larger than 70 cc (PVC § 7725).
ATV-type vehicles that qualify as a MAV: The Vehicle Code expressly provides that MAVs may be operated on public roads between farms owned or operated by the vehicle owner that are not more than five miles apart (PVC § 1302). The Code does not impose any express limitation in age or qualification of a MAV driver. In theory, since MAVs are specifically excluded from the Code’s definition of “ATV,” the MAV driver should not be subject to the same requirements and limitations that the Code imposes upon ATV drivers. However, no court case has confirmed the accuracy of this theory. Also, the Code is not clear on whether or not persons must have valid driver’s license to operate an MAV on a road. It is strongly recommended that the principles described above for safe operation of ATVs be observed by persons owning or operating of MAVs, especially persons younger in age.