MUSKEGON COUNTY ROAD COMMISSION
OPERATION OF SNOWMOBILES
WITHIN COUNTY ROAD RIGHTS-OF-WAYS
The Following are Excerpts from Part 821 of the Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Act
Act 451 of 1994
- “Highway or street” means the entire width between the boundary lines of every way publicly maintained if any part thereof is open to the use of the public for purposes of vehicular travel.
- “Right-of-way” means that portion of a highway or street less the roadway and any shoulder.
- “Roadway” means that portion of a highway or street improved, designated, or ordinarily used for vehicular travel. If a highway or street includes two (2) or more separate roadways, the term roadway refers to any such roadway separately, but not to all such roadways collectively.
- “Shoulder” means that portion of a highway or street on either side of the roadway that is normally snowplowed for the safety and convenience of vehicular traffic.
Section 324.82119 Operation of snowmobiles prohibited; exceptions.
A person shall not operate a snowmobile upon a public highway, land used as an airport or street, or on a public or private parking lot not specifically designated for the use of snowmobiles except under the following conditions and circumstances:
(a) A snowmobile may be operated on the right-of-way of a public highway, except a limited access highway, if it is operated at the extreme right of the open portion of the right-of-way and with the flow of traffic on the highway. However, a snowmobile may be operated on a right-of-way of a public highway against the flow of traffic if the right-of-way is a snowmobile trail designated by the department in the plan developed pursuant to section 82106(2) and is approved by the state transportation department and the department. Snowmobiles operated on the right-of-way of a public highway, as provided in this subdivision shall travel single file and shall not be operated abreast except when overtaking and passing another snowmobile. In the absence of a posted snowmobile speed limit, a snowmobile operated on the right-of-way of a public highway, as provided in this subdivision, shall be limited to the speed limit posted on the public highway.
(b) A snowmobile may be operated on the roadway or shoulder when necessary to cross a bridge or culvert if the snowmobile is brought to a complete stop before entering onto the roadway or shoulder and the driver yields the right-of-way to an approaching vehicle on the highway.
(c) In a court action in this state where competent evidence demonstrates that a vehicle that is permitted to be operated on a highway pursuant to the Michigan vehicle code, Act No. 300 of the Public Acts of 1949, being sections 257.1 to 257.923 of the Michigan Compiled Laws, is in a collision with a snowmobile on a roadway, the driver of the snowmobile involved in the collision shall be considered prima facie negligent.
(d) A snowmobile may be operated across a public highway other than a limited access highway, at right angles to the highway, for the purpose of getting from one area to another when the operation can be done in safety and another vehicle is not crossing the highway at the same time in the same general area. An operator shall bring his or her snowmobile to a complete stop before proceeding across the public highway and shall yield the right-of-way to all oncoming traffic.
(e) Snowmobiles may be operated on a highway in a county road system that is not normally snowplowed for vehicular traffic and on the plowed right-of-way or shoulder when no right-of-way exists on a snowplowed highway in the county road system, outside the corporate limits of a city or village, that is designated and marked for snowmobile use by the county road commission having jurisdiction. Upon the request of a county road commission that has designated all county roads outside the corporate limits of a city or village for snowmobile use, the state transportation department shall erect at county road commission expense and shall maintain, in accordance with the Michigan Manual of Uniform Traffic Control Devices standards, the basic snowmobile sign unit together with a supplemental panel stating “permitted on right-of-way or shoulder of all . . . . . (county name) roads – Act 74 of P.A. 1968” at the county line on all state trunk line highways and county roads. Muskegon County Road Commission designated all county roads outside the corporate limits of a city or village for snowmobile use on August 11, 1988.
(f) A duly constituted law enforcement officer of a local unit of government or the state may authorize use of a snowmobile on a public highway or street within his or her jurisdiction when an emergency occurs and conventional motor vehicles cannot be used for transportation due to snow or other extreme highway conditions.
(g) A snowmobile may be operated on a highway or street for a special event of limited duration conducted according to a prearranged schedule only under permit from the governmental unit having jurisdiction. The event may be conducted on the frozen surface of public waters only under permit from the department.
(h) A city or village by ordinance may designate one (1) or more specific public highways or streets within its jurisdiction as egress and ingress routes for the use of snowmobiles. A city or village acting under the authority of this subdivision shall erect and maintain, in accordance with the Michigan Manual of Uniform Traffic Control Devices standards, a sign unit giving proper notice of the designation.
Section 324.82124 Ordinances; duty to maintain highway; immunity from liability; “gross negligence” defined
(1) Any municipality may pass an ordinance regulating the operation of snowmobiles if the ordinance meets substantially the minimum requirements of this part. A local unit of government may not adopt an ordinance that:
(a) Imposes a fee for a license.
(b) Specifies accessory equipment to be carried on the snowmobile.
(c) Requires a snowmobile operator to possess a motor vehicle driver license.
(d) Restricts operation of a snowmobile on the frozen surface of public waters or on lands owned by or under the control of the state except pursuant to section 82125.
(2) A Board of County Road Commissioners, a County Board of Commissioners, and a County have no duty to maintain any highway under their jurisdiction in a condition reasonably safe and convenient for the operation of snowmobiles.
(3) Beginning on October 19, 1993, a Board of County Road Commissioners, a County Board of Commissioners, and a county are immune from tort liability for injuries or damages sustained by any person arising in any way out of the operation or use of a snowmobile on maintained or un-maintained highways, shoulders, and rights-of-way over which the Board of County Road Commissioners, the County Board of Commissioners, or the County has jurisdiction. The immunity provided by this subsection does not apply to actions which constitute gross negligence. Gross negligence is defined as conduct so reckless as to demonstrate a substantial lack of concern for whether an injury results.