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Helmet law proposed for Off-Highway Vehicles

The Government of Alberta is proposing that helmets be required for the safe use of Off-Highway Vehicles (OHVs) operating on public land. 

OHV training in Alberta

Mandatory helmet laws proposed for OHV use on public land

Minister of Transportation Brian Mason has introduced amendments to the Traffic Safety Act (TSA) that, if passed, would require recreational users of All-Terrain Vehicles (ATVs), snowmobiles, dirt bikes, etc., to wear helmets when heading out on the trail.

“For years, Albertans have been asking their government to take action to reduce the unnecessary injuries and deaths caused by head injuries on OHVs. If passed, the proposed amendments to the Traffic Safety Act would help prevent injuries and keep families safe and whole.”

Brian Mason, Minister of Transportation

“Helmets are the first piece of safety equipment we strongly recommend to our users. We applaud the government for introducing these amendments and hope to see the proposed helmet legislation become law in Alberta.”

Brent Hodgson, President, Alberta Off-Highway Vehicle Association

“Brain injuries are the leading cause of injury and death for ATV riders and I had the misfortune of becoming one of the statistics after being critically injured while riding. I was not wearing a helmet. I fully support this bill and the clear message it sends about just how much value the Alberta government places on the health, safety and quality of life of all riders.”

Denise Pelletier, HR practitioner, author, speaker, traumatic brain injury survivor

“The Traffic Safety Act amendments being proposed could make future helmet use decisions easier for our youth, as legislation becomes an additional encouragement to make safe personal choices.  We support the amendments being proposed and are hopeful they will be passed into law.”

Laura Nelson, Executive Director, Farm Safety Centre

In September 2016, the Government of Alberta consulted with Albertans and stakeholders about how to improve safety for people using OHVs. More than 2,200 Albertans shared their feedback, with 65 per cent saying helmets should be required for everyone who rides an OHV.

Private and Indigenous land, farm and ranch workers exempt

If passed, the proposed amendments would not require use of helmets for farming and ranching work. Farm and ranch operations would continue to be exempt under the Occupational Health & Safety Code.

The proposed amendments to the TSA would specifically exempt private property. This remains consistent with existing OHV laws under the Traffic Safety Act. The proposed amendments would also exempt First Nations and Metis Settlement lands.

Regulations to determine future exemptions

If passed, the proposed amendments would allow for regulations to define future exemptions. This could include exemptions for individuals operating OHVs outfitted with prescribed roll-over protection and seatbelts.

Quick facts*

  • On average, approximately 19 people are killed in Alberta every year while operating OHVs.
  • Between 2002 and 2013, there were 185 people killed while riding ATVs in Alberta.
    • 74 people died from head injuries (40 per cent).
    • Nearly 80 per cent of those fatalities involved people not wearing helmets.
  • Each year in Alberta there are nearly 6,000 OHV-related emergency room visits.
  • In 2015, more than 1,000 children under 16 were injured while riding OHVs.

*Data from Injury Prevention Centre 


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