Driving all-terrain vehicles (ATVs) is a popular summer pastime in Canada. And it’s no wonder – ATV riding can be exhilarating and fun. Unfortunately, it can also be dangerous. In fact, according to Statistics Canada, there are 100 deaths a year related to ATV accidents. Even non-fatal accidents can be traumatic or even life-changing.
What constitutes an ATV?
According to Ontario’s Off-Roads Vehicle Act, ATVs include dune buggies and three and four-wheelers (quads) that include handlebars and a straddle or driver’s seat. Some of these vehicles are built purely for recreational use, while others have more utilitarian purposes such as farming or construction.
But no matter what type of ATV they are driving, drivers are expected to follow certain laws, including obeying speed limits, carrying appropriate insurance, obeying passenger limits, wearing motorcycle helmets, maintaining visibility while driving and abstaining from drug and alcohol use.
Unfortunately, not all drivers follow the rules, and this can result in serious injury or death. Here are five of the most common causes of ATV accidents in Canada.
Driving too fast
Just like with auto accidents, speed is a major factor in many ATV accidents. According to the Ontario Ministry of Transportation, when driving an ATV on-road, drivers are mandated to drive no faster than 20 km/h where the speed limit is 50 km/h or less; and no more than 50 km/h where the speed limit is higher than 50 km/h.
Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs
Because ATVing is often associated with camping or weekend recreation, driving under the influence tends to be another major cause of ATV accidents. But just as with driving a car or motorcycle, driving an ATV under the influence is illegal and can lead to serious injury or even death.
Many ATV accidents involve rollovers or crashing into a stationary object. This is often the result of reckless or stunt driving. The Off-Roads Vehicle Act states that anyone who drives an off-road vehicle carelessly and without reasonable consideration of others is guilty of an offence.
Riding with too many passengers
Most ATVs are designed for a single rider or sometimes one driver and one passenger. When ATV drivers attempt to take more passengers than the vehicle is designed for, there is a much higher probability that someone will fall off and become injured. Furthermore, additional riders on an ATV are more likely to be seriously hurt in the event of a rollover or collision.
Finally, inexperience often plays a big role in ATV accidents. According to the Ministry of Transportation, ATV drivers must be a minimum of 12 years old (or supervised by an adult) if driving off-road and a minimum of 16 years old if driving on-road. On-road drivers must also have at least their G2 or M2 license.
It is further recommended that all ATV drivers take an off-road vehicle safety course such as that offered by the Canadian Quad Council, where they can learn from an expert and achieve a reasonable skill level.
Have you been hurt in an ATV accident?
If you or a loved one has been injured in an ATV accident, you are entitled to make an accident benefits claim, but your first priority should be to get medical treatment, including any diagnosis which may be important to your case. You should also keep records of any evidence from the accident scene, including photographs or testimonies of people who witnessed the accident.
Finally, you should call Hoffman Law and speak to one of our personal injury lawyers. We can help you determine if you are entitled to compensation and fight to ensure that your rights are protected.