A new law mandating helmets for riders on off-highway vehicles (OHVs) comes into effect on May 15.
OHVs include ATVs, snowmobiles, dirt bikes, four-wheel drive vehicles and side-by-side ATVs.
The helmet law applies to riders on public land, meaning Crown land — including areas designated for public OHV use — public roadways and highway rights-of-way.
In a news release, the government said the legislation — introduced last fall — addresses the significant number of head injuries incurred by OHV riders over the years.
“This government has made a commitment to improving safety on Alberta’s transportation network. 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,” said NDP Transportation Minister Brian Mason in the release.
Fines will range from $93 for not wearing an approved helmet to $155 for failing to wear a helmet.
The Alberta Off-Highway Vehicle Association said the government had struck the right balance with the legislation.
But Liberal Leader David Swann, a long-time proponent of a helmet law, said that while the new rules are an important first step, the government needs to go further.
Swann said the province should introduce age restriction and mandatory training, testing or licensing. He noted the new law does not specifically address alcohol consumption while operating an OHV on private land.
There are close to 6,000 emergency room visits related to OHV use in Alberta annually and an average of 20 fatalities associated with OHV use each year.
In 2015, more than 1,000 children under the age of 16 were injured while riding OHVs and two of them died.
“Having a very personal connection to this issue – my nephew was killed while operating an OHV without a helmet – it is my earnest desire that no family experience such a terrible loss, which can easily be prevented by ensuring proper training and requiring the use of helmets while operating off-highway vehicles,” Swann said in a news release.