Volunteer instructors in the state's off-highway vehicle education program could begin receiving compensation for their work, albeit not much more than gasoline money.
The Energy, Natural Resources and Agriculture Interim Committee voted unanimously Wednesday in favor of an amendment to state law that will pay volunteers $3 per student they teach."Most of our volunteers do it for the love of off-highway vehicle safety," said Ted Woolley, Division of Parks and Recreation. "This ($3 per student) would take the sting out of their pocket."
In fact, most volunteer instructors are paying much of the expenses associated with the training out of their own pockets. And the costs become so high that it's become hard to keep trained instructors in the program.
And then it requires full-time state employees to train additional volunteers. Even though the division would lose the $3 per student, it would save the state money if it helps keep volunteers in the program longer.
Volunteer instructors currently all use their own off-highway vehicles in the training program. In addition, they are required to own and demonstrate all safety equipment associated with the machines.
In the case of snowmobiles, the instructors pay gasoline expenses to take the class to the the mountains for training.
Currently, state law mandates that children seeking to operate off-highway vehicles be trained on safety techniques and be certified by a qualified instructor. They pay a $10 fee for the training, and the $3 paid to the instructor would come from that fee.
"We're not asking volunteers to turn their pockets inside out to help the state of Utah," said Rep. Arlo James, D-Kearns.
Other amendments to the off-highway vehicle law include requiring a safety flag when such vehicles are operated on sand dunes and rear foot rests if the operator is carrying passengers.