A group of quaders gather on a pipline and utilities corridor during May long weekend in the West Country on Saturday, May 17, 2014. (Advocate File Photo)

Central Alberta ATV riders applaud mandatory helmet law

Mandatory helmets for off-highway vehicle riders come into effect later this month, and to some riders it’s a welcome change.

As of May 15, helmets will be mandatory for those riding off-highway vehicles on public land in Alberta. This includes ATVs snowmobiles, four-wheel drive vehicles and side-by-sides.

Calvin Rakach, Alberta Off-Highway Vehicle Association secretary and member of the Bighorn Heritage ATV Society, said both organizations applaud the move.

“It’s something we’ve been working on for many years and encouraging the government to put the helmet laws in place,” said Rakach, who lives in Sundre. “We’re dedicated to promoting safe individual family motorized vehicle opportunities and helmets are the first line of defence for that.”

The West Country, near Sundre and Rocky Mountain House is a well used area for riders. Bighorn Heritage ATV Society is a group of volunteers who build and maintain trails in the Hummingbird and Bighorn Dam areas.

According to the provincial government, Alberta averaged 19 off-highway vehicle deaths per year. In that same period, 77 per cent of serious head injuries happened to individuals not wearing helmets.

Fines will range from $93 for not wearing an approved helmet to $155 for failing to wear a helmet.

“This government has made a commitment to improving safety on Alberta’s transportation network,” said transportation minister Brian Mason in a release.

“Albertans told us overwhelmingly that they wanted us to make helmets a requirement for OHV riders, and we responded. This will keep riders safe so that OHVs can be enjoyed well into the future.”

The law only applies to off-highway vehicles operated on public land, which is any area designated for public use. This includes Crown land, public roadways, highway right-of-ways and areas designated for public use.

“The Government of Alberta struck the right balance with this legislation. Head injuries are the No. 1 risk to OHV riders. Making helmets mandatory will mean more riders will stay safe and continue to enjoy riding in Alberta’s beautiful landscapes,” said Brent Hodgson, Alberta Off-Highway Vehicle Association president.

mcrawford@bprda.wpengine.com

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