Province proposing helmet law for off-highway vehicles

by Morinville News Staff

Helmet laws for off-highway vehicles on public land could soon come into effect is Minister of Transportation Brian Mason amendments to the Traffic Safety Act (TSA) pass. The amendments would require recreational users ATVs, snowmobiles, dirt bikes, and other off-road vehicles to wear helmets.

“For years, Albertans have been asking their government to take action to reduce the unnecessary injuries and deaths caused by head injuries on OHVs,” said Mason in a release Monday. “If passed, the proposed amendments to the Traffic Safety Act would help prevent injuries and keep families safe and whole.”

The Government of Alberta consulted with Albertans and stakeholders this past September about how to improve safety for people using OHVs. The province received feedback from 2,200 Albertans. Of those, 65 per cent said they believed helmets should be required for everyone who rides an OHV.

If passed, the proposed amendments would not require helmet use for farming and ranching work. Farm and ranch operations would continue to be exempt under the Occupational Health & Safety Code. Private and Indigenous land is also exempt.

Brent Hodgson, President of the Alberta Off-Highway Vehicle Association, said his organization supports helmet use.

“Helmets are the first piece of safety equipment we strongly recommend to our users. We applaud the government for introducing these amendments and hope to see the proposed helmet legislation become law in Alberta.”

The province says approximately 19 people are killed in Alberta every year while operating OHVs, 185 between 2002 and 2013. Seventy-four of that number died as a result of head injuries. Almost 80 per cent were not wearing helmets.

Denise Pelletier is a traumatic brain injury survivor, author, and an advocate of ATV helmets.

“Brain injuries are the leading cause of injury and death for ATV riders, and I had the misfortune of becoming one of the statistics after being critically injured while riding,” she said. “I was not wearing a helmet. I fully support this bill and the clear message it sends about just how much value the Alberta government places on the health, safety and quality of life of all riders.”

If passed, the proposed amendments would allow for regulations to define future exemptions. These future amendments could include exemptions for individuals operating OHVs outfitted with prescribed roll-over protection and seatbelts.

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