Off-highway vehicle safety legislation still needs to go further

Alberta Liberal Leader David Swann says Alberta’s off-highway safety legislation still needs to go further.

“Requiring off-highway vehicle operators to use helmets on public land is an important first step, especially since Alberta was the only province not to have such legislation, says Swann. “However, much more needs to be done to ensure the safe operation of these machines.”

Despite being powerful motor vehicles, Alberta has virtually no rules for OHVs use. There are no age restrictions, mandatory training, testing or licencing requirements for operating an OHV. Neither is there any explicit prohibition against consuming alcohol while operating these vehicles on private land in Alberta.

The statistics are sobering. Each year in Alberta, there are nearly 6,000 off-highway vehicle-related emergency room visits, and an average of almost 20 Albertans are killed each year while operating them.

Sadly, many of those are children. In 2015, more than 1,000 children under the age of 16 were injured while riding OHVs. Between the months of April and August last year, 44 children were seen in Alberta’s two pediatric emergency departments due to OHV-related injuries. 13 were injured seriously enough to require admission to hospital, and two of them died as a result of their injuries.

“During the Bill 36 debate, I proposed two amendments to include standards for safety training to be completed prior to a person driving, operating, riding in or on or being towed by an off-highway vehicle, but the NDP government chose to vote against them,” says Swann. “Having a very personal connection to this issue – my nephew was killed while operating an OHV without a helmet – it is my earnest desire that no family experience such a terrible loss, which can easily be prevented by ensuring proper training and requiring the use of helmets while operating off-highway vehicles.”