Alberta off-highway vehicle helmet law cheered by some enthusiasts

Alberta off-highway vehicle helmet law cheered by some enthusiasts

Some backcountry trail users say the new provincial law making helmets mandatory for off-highway vehicle riders on public lands is a welcome change.

The rules come into force May 15 and apply to ATVs such as quads, as well as dirt bikes and snowmobiles. Fines for not wearing a helmet will range from $93 to $155.

Veteran off-roader Dan MacDonald says most trail users already wear helmets, but he has seen a few ride without them.

"It's an unnecessary risk, I think. Especially in the speeds of these things," he said.

"These quads and the side-by-sides, you're looking at, some of them are a hundred horsepower and they don't weigh anything, you know, and there's no training. There's no training on them. You just buy it and away you go."

Dirt biker Mike Ciganik also welcomed the new regulation.

"I mean, you can crash, you can roll over in any vehicle, right?" 

Leading cause of death 

According to the Injury Prevention Centre, head injury was the leading cause of death for quad riders and passengers between 2002 and 2013. There were 185 ATV-related deaths in Alberta in that period — an average of 16 per year. Of the riders who died, 77 per cent were not wearing a helmet.

Interim Liberal leader David Swann says the new rules are a good first step, but he wants more training requirements as well as age restrictions for drivers and passengers.

"I'd sure love to see the government take more leadership on this and ensure that children are protected, young people are protected and all people are protected," he said.

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