ATVs like the one shown above can be dangerous if not operated properly and according to safety regulations. — File photo / © Wreckhouse Press IncJaymie White, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Throughout the warmer months, ATV (all-terrain vehicle) usage on the various trails across the province is one of the more popular pastimes; however, as with any other vehicle usage, the operation of ATVs and other all-terrain vehicles comes with its own set of dangers.
According to Statistics Canada, while ATVs and UTVs (utility terrain vehicles) are used across Canada for recreation, transportation, and different occupations and are an extremely popular activity, the potential for serious injury and even death is there.
“From 2013 to 2019, on average, across all provinces and territories, 100 people in Canada died from unintentional ATV events every year. Among these fatalities, 9 per cent involved a UTV. Unlike other types of ATVs, UTVs are able to seat passengers side-by-side and provide additional safety features, including seatbelts, roll bars and, in some cases, windshields and doors.”
Statistics Canada further states that understanding the circumstances around ATV fatalities is a good starting point when putting proper measures in place to minimize harm to ATV users.
“Although the circumstances are not always known, insights can be learned from looking at what has
been reported by the coroner or medical examiner who investigated these deaths. In 2009, The Canadian Quad Council put in place safety recommendations, or “Quad rules,” to minimize harm while ATV
riding. These recommendations include wearing protective safety gear such as a compliant helmet, riding
with headlights on, riding on designated trails while avoiding paved roads and live water courses where possible, riding with the number of passengers that the vehicle can accommodate, ensuring ATV size is appropriate for the driver’s age, weight and riding ability, supervising young riders, travelling in a group, driving sober and getting certified ATV training.”
Based on the Canadian Vital Statistics: Death Database and the Canadian Coroner and Medical Examiner Database from 2013 to 2019, the following was discovered:More than 8 in 10 (85 per cent) of ATV related fatalities occur among men with almost three-quarters of fatal events occurring among those aged 20-64 years.

  • Among ATV-related fatalities, drivers accounted for 79 per cent of reported fatalities, while passengers represented 9 per cent of fatalities. In 12 per cent of cases, the rider’s position was not specified.
  • Nearly half of all fatalities on ATVs were a result of a rollover. ATV fatalities can result from single- (92 per cent) or multi- (8 per cent) vehicle events. Among all ATV-related fatalities, rollovers were reported in 45 per cent of deaths,
  • Fatal ATV-related events occurred in a number of locations, including trails, roads, open fields and bodies of water, such as lakes, rivers and creeks.
  • In 79 per cent of all cases, the final cause of death was reported to be an injury sustained during the incident, such as a fatal head, chest or spine injury.
  • Compromised breathing was reported in 14 per cent of cases and was often the result of the ATV landing on top of the deceased. Drownings were reported in about 5 per cent of cases and other causes of death were reported in 2 per cent of cases.
  • At least one risk factor was reported in over three-quarters (79 per cent) of ATV related fatalities, such as alcohol or drug consumption, whether the ATV rider was travelling with a group or alone, the condition of the terrain or road and whether a helmet was worn.
  • Of the risk factors, the consumption of alcohol, cannabis or other drugs was most commonly reported by coroners and medical examiners with Alcohol, cannabis or other drugs reported in more than half of ATV-related fatalities
  • Dangerous terrain, slopes or curves reported in one-third of ATV-related fatalities
  • Helmets not worn in one-third of ATV fatalities
  • The deceased was riding alone in 4 out of 10 ATV-related fatalities
    In May of 2022, the Department of Digital and Government Service NL issued the new Off-Road Vehicles Act and Regulations which aimed to enhance safety for all off-road vehicle users.
    The new regulations included the mandatory wearing of helmets on all off-road vehicles, but one exception where helmets will not be required was for hunting and trapping activities, involving frequent stops, where speed is less than 20 kilometres an hour. Seatbelts were also made mandatory on off-road vehicles where seatbelts have been installed by the manufacturer and the use of chains will now be permitted on off-road vehicle tires.
    According to the RCMP, since 2022, there has been no significant increase or decline of off-road vehicle fatalities in the province.
    “In comparing off-road vehicle fatalities within areas policed by RCMP NL from 2022 to 2023, our numbers are fairly consistent.
  • January 2022 – August 2022: 10
  • January 2023 – August 2023: 9
    “Common factors continue to be lack of helmet use and impairment.
    “In 2022, five of the ten deceased were not wearing a helmet. In 2023, three of the nine deceased were not wearing a helmet.
    “In 2022, impairment is suspected in four of the ten deceased. In 2023, impairment is suspected in
    three of the nine deceased.”
    The RCMP continues to explore many venues to increase public understanding and awareness of offroad usage and safety.
    “To raise public awareness, RCMP NL engages with the public regularly over social media through the use of social media posts on off-road vehicle legislation and enforcement and fatal collisions. We also engage frequently with news media to conduct requested interviews and answer questions posed to promote a solid understanding of the legislation and all required aspects of offroad vehicle safety.
    “A number of our detachments deliver school talks and presentations on the safe operation of off-road vehicle use. Additionally, many of detachments have disseminated off-road vehicle safety pamphlets to area residents, which highlight some key points of the current legislation.”
    The RCMP added that there are several things off-road vehicle users can do to ensure the potential for an accident resulting in serious injury or death is better avoided.
    “Best practices to ensure a safe riding experience include wearing the required safety equipment-helmets and seatbelts-, operating without impairment and the proper supervision of youth.”
    According to the Department of Digital Government and Service NL, safety should be the number one concern for anyone choosing to operate an off-road vehicle.
    “Safety is the responsibility of every off-road vehicle user, as well as the collective effort of those who enforce and uphold the legislation. The Provincial Government recognizes the value of outdoor activities, and the use of off-road vehicles as a mode of transportation, but safety remains a priority.”

By Jaymie White, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Original Published on Sep 11, 2023 at 06:00

This item reprinted with permission from    Wreckhouse Weekly News    Port aux Basques, Newfoundland
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