Alberta has finally recognized the extreme danger riding an off-highway vehicle (OHV) poses to drivers and riders alike. As of May 15, 2017, helmets will be mandatory for riding OHV’s on public land in Alberta.  OHV’s include ATV’s, snowmobiles, side-by-side vehicles and 4-wheel drive vehicles.

In our law practice we have acted for victims with serious brain injuries as well as death from people riding OHV’s without helmets and striking their head on the ground or on the roll-bars if they are unseatbelted in a side-by-side vehicle (pictured here). Numerous Off Highway Vehicle Associations around the province were lobbying the provincial government to pass this legislation as those organizations from around the province see the dangers of these OHV’s on a regular basis.

Unfortunately, the new law effective May 15, only applies to people operating an OHV on public land. Therefore, people driving OHV’s on private land may continue to not wear a helmet and expose themselves to unnecessary risk. At Handel Law Firm, we believe this law does not go far enough, it should apply to operating on private land because if an individual suffers a severe brain injury on private land because they weren’t wearing a helmet, it is the tax payers of Alberta who will pick up the tab for that brain injury treatment which could have been avoided simply by wearing a helmet. In other words, your private land rights to do what you want don’t extend to engaging in unnecessarily risky behaviour when injury from that risky behaviour will be paid by the public purse.

Hopefully the Provincial Government will enact further legislation mandating helmets for OHV’s on public and private lands.