Spring is just around the corner and that means more off-roading adventures soon to be had. But this season could be a bit different depending on where you prefer to play. That’s because with more and more legislation aiming to take land away from off-road use, some places may be off limits in the near future. Luckily, SEMA is working its hardest to keep this from happening and succeeded against odds already this season when it comes to some of the country’s biggest off-road playgrounds. Check out the latest in this month’s SEMA Law & Order update below.
One of the biggest fights over the last several years is finally over thanks to the work of SEMA, SAN (the SEMA Action Network), Hammer King Productions and many other organizations. Of course, we’re talking about the six-year fight over land in the Johnson Valley OHV Recreation Area, the home of countless off-road trails, events and the famed King of the Hammers race.
In a compromise reached by both sides of the Johnson Valley land-use debate, the 2014 National Defense Authorization Act was officially passed by Congress in December of 2013.
What this means for off-road enthusiasts is that just over 96,000 acres of land will continue to be open for off-road recreation under the control of the U.S. Bureau of Land Management, while about 76,000 acres will be transferred over to the control of the Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center in adjacent Twentynine Palms, California. During training exercises twice a year (each stretching 30 days long), 53,000 of the 96,000 acres secured for OHV use will be shared with the Marines.
Although this was not the complete win that off-road enthusiasts had hoped for, the shared-use solution allows for about half of the Johnson Valley area to remain open year-round for off-road use and events, including KOH. SEMA commends Rep. Paul Cook for helping negotiate the compromise. (It should be noted that due to the transfer of control over part of the land previously controlled by the BLM, events like KOH will have to revise their race courses to fit within the designated boundaries of the 96,000 acres.)
For those of you watching legislation on the state level closely, good news continues to come out of Ohio where the Senate has passed the white headlight bill, which would deem federal regulations on headlight color to be fit for state regulations, rather than imposing more restrictions on headlight colors. If passed in the House, the bill will continue to allow headlights classified as white, even if they have a blue tint, to remain legal on the road.
This means no matter what type of federally-approved headlights your’e running on your tow rig or on/off-road vehicle, you shouldn’t have to worry about if you’re in compliance with the state in the near future.
Another win this month comes out of Wisconsin, where owners of collector vehicles, as well as historic or former military vehicles are getting more rights. In a bill signed into law by Governor Scott Walker, historic and former military vehicles, and vehicles registered as collector pieces have been exempt from federal certification label requirements. Ex-military vehicles are also being allowed on the road for limited personal use, such as exhibition in parades, car shows or transportation to and from a repair or maintenance facility.
In a final note, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has issued a report with some interesting findings this month. According to this report, the effectiveness of front-seat seatbelt pretensioners and load limiters (the devises that lock and release slack in seatbelts) was tested on light-duty vehicles recently.
What the NHTSA found was that these devises reduced the fatality risk in accidents by 13 percent in passenger cars, minivans and crossovers equipped with the technology from model years 1986 through 2011. However, there was no real difference found in the fatality risk when it came to pickup trucks, full-size vans and SUVs.
While right now this doesn’t change anything for larger vehicle owners, it could lead to more safety features in future truck and SUV models.
SEMA is all over the place when it comes to helping the automotive industry, from putting on amazing shows to putting a stop to unfair legislation. Thanks to them, this season should be the best one yet!