All Terrain Vehicles (ATVs) are popular for work and recreation in rural Alberta. They are maneuverable and narrow and navigate off-road on low-pressure tires. The same attributes that make them useful on rough terrain and in tight spaces make them prone to rollovers and every year Albertans are injured and killed while using ATVs.

Driver education and observance of good safety practices are fundamental steps that can reduce incidences of injury and death. While Alberta law requires only that helmets be worn on public land or roads, health authorities recommend that helmets be worn at all times when operating an ATV. Alberta Health Services also recommends a jacket, long pants, goggles, boots and gloves. Never drive when impaired by alcohol or drugs.

A course in safe operation of ATVs is available through the Alberta Safety Council. It covers basic skills like pre-ride inspections, riding over obstacles and hills, appropriate protective gear and more. This is valuable information for any ATV operator, and more so for new drivers.

More than half of ATV incidents are rollovers. While the preventative measures above are a first line of defense, Crush Prevention Devices (CPDs) are proven to reduce injury and death when a rollover occurs. They work by causing the ATV to land on its side instead of completing a rollover, or by creating a space between the rider and the ground, thus reducing crush injuries. There are several different types of CPDs, all worth investigation.

Battle River Power Coop adds one more safety caution for ATV users in the vicinity of powerlines. Be aware that guy-wires are often associated with power poles and they may be partially hidden in long grass. Give them plenty of room, and never attempt to drive under a guy-wire.

In Alberta, ATV’s are governed by the Traffic Safety Act under the section pertaining to ‘off-highway vehicles’:

Prohibited Operation: An off-highway vehicle may not be operated on any highway, road or ditch unless permission has been expressly granted. In the case of a provincial highway, the Minister may by “order” or “permit” authorize such vehicles along any portion of a highway (Traffic Safety Act, Section 120(4)(a)(i) & (ii)).

In the case of a municipality, the council of a municipality may, through bylaw, authorize such vehicles along any portion of a highway (Traffic Safety Act, Section 120(4)(b)). Note: Definition of “highway” includes the ditches alongside the roadway. Visit www.transportation.alberta.ca for complete details.