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Proposed Changes to Improve Off-Road Vehicle Safety

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Helmets will be required for all off-road vehicles in Newfoundland and Labrador, including snowmobiles and enclosed side-by-sides, should government legislation pass.

In the House of Assembly, legislation to improve safety for all off-road vehicle users in Newfoundland and Labrador was introduced for a second reading. All-terrain vehicles, side-by-sides, snowmobiles, mini-bikes, dirt-bikes, dune/sport buggies, and amphibious vehicles will be covered if the Off-Road Vehicles Act is passed.

Proposed changes include:

  • The mandatory use of helmets;
  • Safety training requirements;
  • Supervision requirements;
  • Requirement for operating on a highway; and
  • Increased fines.

“Off-road vehicle use is quite common throughout our province, however, there have been far too many fatalities and injuries due to unsafe operation. While today’s proposed changes are designed to improve safety, it is up to all users to ensure the safe operation of their off-road vehicles.”, said the Honourable Sarah Stoodley, Minister of Digital Government and Service NL.

Since 2014, 68 people in Newfoundland and Labrador have died in off-road vehicle accidents said Minister Stoodley. According to her, the new laws are designed to promote a more safety-conscious attitude toward vehicles.

Nearly half of off-road fatalities were the result of a rollover

According to Statistics Canada, ATV fatalities can result from single- (92%) or multi- (8%) vehicle events. Among all ATV-related fatalities, rollovers were reported in 45% of deaths, followed by collisions with a stationary object (16%), ejections (12%), collisions with a moving vehicle (7%), other and unspecified collisions (6%), submersions (3%), and other incidents (2%) (the event was not specified in 9% of fatalities).

Helmets not worn in one-third of ATV fatalities

Wearing a helmet is recommended to prevent head injuries while riding an ATV. In the same study from Stats Canada, at least 33% of riders were not wearing a helmet during the fatal ATV event. Even when a helmet is worn, fatal injuries may still occur, such as injuries to the spine, injuries to internal organs, as well as compromised breathing caused by the ATV rolling onto the rider.

Staying Safe on ATV’s and Off-Road Vehicles

Ride safe and reduce your risk of injury by following these off-road safety tips:

  • Wear a helmet that is designed specifically for riding an ATV. Helmets designed for other tasks will not provide the necessary protection from falls because they cannot absorb enough energy upon impact should you hit your head. A proper helmet should also resist blows from sharp objects, stay in place as you ride and provide minimal side vision. Also, wear the appropriate eye protection if your helmet does not have a face shield.
  • Wear gloves to improve your grip on the controls and to reduce the pressure from holding onto the handlebars.
  • Do not ride on public roads and avoid private, paved roads. Due to the way ATVs are made, they are difficult to control on paved roads. And collisions with cars and other vehicles can be deadly.
  • Scan ahead of you to identify hazards such as rocks, fallen branches, fences, wires, and unstable surfaces. Notify your supervisor of potential hazards that should be removed.
  • Never, ever mix alcohol or cannabis and use an off-road vehicle. Impaired driving, whether on land or water, is punishable under the Criminal Code of Canada. Convictions for a first offense can result in fines, prohibition from operating a boat or motor vehicle, seizure of the boat for a period of time, and possible prison terms.

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