Helmets will become mandatory gear for Alberta riders of off-highway vehicles (OHVs) as of May 15, the provincial government has announced.
When on public land, riders of ATVs, snowmobiles, dirt bikes, four-wheel-drive vehicles and side-by-sides must wear helmets or face a fine of up to $155.
Farming and ranching operations involving OHV use will be exempt under the existing Occupational Health and Safety code.
An exemption also applies when riding on First Nations lands and when on the rider’s own property or on private property with the owner’s permission.
In addition, those of the Sikh faith who feel helmet use is not compatible with their religion and who are wearing a turban will be exempt.
Alberta Transportation said most injuries involving OHVs are head injuries.
From 2002-13, there were 19 OHV-related deaths per year, on average, and in 77 percent of injuries while using OHVs in that time period, riders were not wearing a helmet.
Each year in Alberta, OHV-related emergency room visits number almost 6,000 and in 2015, more than 1,000 children younger than 16 were injured while riding OHVs, according to government statistics.
Brent Hodgson, president of the Alberta Off-Highway Vehicle Association, welcomed the law.
“The government of Alberta struck the right balance with this legislation,” he said.
“Head injuries are the No. 1 risk to OHV riders. Making helmets mandatory will mean more riders will stay safe and continue to enjoy riding in Alberta’s beautiful landscapes.”