The times they are a-changin’—and about time, too

Deciphering Alberta’s new helmet law for OHVs

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An ATV rider wearing a helmet

Alberta’s new helmet law: wear a helmet or pay a fine. — Photo courtesy Adam Johnson

There’s nothing like the feeling of wind blowing through your hair while ripping through a forest on your ATV. There’s also nothing to protect your noggin when your tire snags a rut and you get thrown over the handlebars. At long last, the Alberta government has caught up with the rest of Western Canada by making it mandatory to wear a helmet while riding an off-highway vehicle (OHV).

As of May 15, 2017, Canadian Standards Association (CSA)-compliant helmets must be worn by OHV users when riding on public land (i.e., Crown land).

Helmets are required for anyone driving, operating, riding in or on, or being towed by an OHV.

Fines

If you opt not to wear a helmet, other than the physical danger you put yourself in, you risk a $155 fine. If you wear a helmet that isn’t CSA-compliant, you’re still on the hook for $93—the same penalty as riding a motorcycle without a helmet.

Exceptions

Don’t fret if you’re a farmer, as there are some exceptions to these rules. You’re not required to wear a helmet on your own property, on private property with permission of the owner or when performing farm or ranch work.

Not every kind of OHV requires riders to wear helmets either. You’re in the clear if you have manufacturer-installed rollover protective structures and seatbelts or if your ride is designed for use on a roadway and has seat belts such as unmodified 4x4 trucks and jeeps.

Better late than never

The reasons for implementing the new helmet law in Alberta are numerous. Fewer injuries and fewer deaths would rate at the top of the list. “Head injuries are the number one cause of injuries when using OHVs,” said Adam Johnson, public affairs officer for Alberta Transportation. “Nearly 80 per cent of individuals who lost their lives riding ATVs as a result of head injuries were not wearing helmets.”

The president of the Alberta Off-Highway Vehicle Association (AOHVA), Brent Hodgson, has also voiced his support for the new law. “The Government of Alberta struck the right balance with this legislation,” he said. “Making helmets mandatory will mean more riders will stay safe and continue to enjoy riding in Alberta’s beautiful landscapes.”

Alberta took its time getting on the bandwagon, but it’s on now—with a CSA-approved helmet at that.

Ride on, Alberta. Just don’t forget your helmet. 


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