Alta. plans mandatory helmets on off-highway vehicles

Wearing a helmet when riding an off-highway vehicle (OHV) on Alberta public land may become mandatory pending government amendments to the Traffic Safety Act.

Transportation Minister Brian Mason announced the plan Nov. 28, which would affect those who ride all-terrain vehicles, snowmobiles, dirt bikes and similar recreational vehicles.

Mason said the move is designed to reduce head injuries and deaths incurred when riding OHVs.

The legislation would not apply to those riding OHVs on private land such as farms and ranches nor would it apply to First Nations and Metis land.

Laura Nelson, executive director of the Farm Safety Centre based in Raymond, Alta., said such a change to the act could better protect youngsters.

“The Traffic Safety Act amendments being proposed could make future helmet use decisions easier for our youth, as legislation becomes an additional encouragement to make safe personal choices. We support the amendments being proposed and are hopeful they will be passed into law,” Nelson said in a news release announcing the plan.

The proposed legislation was also supported by Brent Hodgson, president of the Alberta Off-Highway Vehicle Association, who said helmet use is recommended to all its members.

The government release said a September 2016 survey showed 65 percent of 2,200 Alberta respondents favoured mandatory helmet use for OHV riders.

Between 2002 and 2013, 185 people were killed while riding ATVs in Alberta. Forty percent of them died from head injuries, according to data from the Injury Prevention Centre.

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