Rankin Inlet enforcing bylaws around ATV safety, including helmet requirements

·3 min read
All-terrain vehicles come out on the roads of Rankin Inlet, Nunavut. A new bylaw enforcement campaign aims to beef up compliance with safety regulations. (Jane George/ CBC - image credit)
All-terrain vehicles come out on the roads of Rankin Inlet, Nunavut. A new bylaw enforcement campaign aims to beef up compliance with safety regulations. (Jane George/ CBC - image credit)

To improve public safety, the community of Rankin Inlet, Nunavut, has restarted its annual enforcement campaign of traffic regulations for all-terrain vehicles.

The need to improve safety is real, said Fire Chief Mark Wyatt.

"One of the things that we try to stop from happening is kids racing around on ATVs. Every year we have a number of ATV accidents and we're trying to curb those and make sure that people aren't getting hurt," Wyatt said.

On June 1 bylaw officers in the community of about 3,300 will begin to clamp down on such offences as underage driving, speeding and dangerous ATV operation. They also enforce restrictions on the number of passengers allowed on every ATV and observance of stop signs and school zones.

Everyone on an ATV must wear a helmet, according to the bylaw, Wyatt said.

"The accidents that we do have where people are wearing helmets, the injuries are always significantly less. I've been in the fire industry for 20 years and I've seen motorcycle accidents and ATV accidents and ... the damage that is caused by them, with and without helmets. And trust me, helmets work," he said.

ATV drivers must keep to a maximum speed of 40 km/hr in town and stay at 20 km/hr in school or other speed-restricted zones.

As well, ATVs must be properly registered and children under 16 are not allowed to drive ATVs in town "at any time," the bylaw says.

Child's death prompts change

The age limit for driving ATVs in Rankin Inlet has risen from 14 to 16 over the past few years, Wyatt said.

"One of the main reasons that we increased the age is we've had a couple of fatalities involving younger drivers and passengers. A couple of years ago an 11- year-old child passed away," Wyatt said. "That has a dramatic effect on the community as a whole. And quite frankly, if you're not of the age to get a driver's license, you probably shouldn't be driving another vehicle in town on the roads."

But youth aren't always eager to comply with the rules. Some of them have tried to run away from bylaw officers, Wyatt said.

"We usually track them down at their house and then they end up getting tickets issued and we have confiscated ATVs as well. And that doesn't go over very well with the parents," Wyatt said.

Bylaw officers will also ensure that the maximum number of people riding on an ATV stays at two: a driver and one passenger.

The only exception for passenger load, the bylaw says, is for a baby in an amauti hood of a parka.

The bylaw comes into effect June 1, and after a week of warnings, bylaw officers will then start handing out tickets for not complying with the rules come with fines:

  • From $25 to $75 for speeding.

  • $60 for unlawful operation of an ATV by a person under 16.

  • $60 for contravening helmet regulations.

  • $60 for operation of an ATV with more than two persons.

  • $60 for driving without certificate of registration or insurance.

  • Up to $500 for dangerous driving and possible impounding of the vehicle.

For second offences, the fines will rise to $200.

"We've been mandated by council to enforce these rules because it is in the interest of public safety," Wyatt said.

"It's not a cash grab to go out and write a whole bunch of tickets. I would just as soon not write any tickets, but that's the way that we have to enforce this. So that's what we do."

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