Slightly warmer weather means many people will be exploring the great outdoors this spring. While some choose hiking, swimming, camping, or boating, off-roading in Ontario is increasingly popular. This includes use of ATVs, UTVs, off-road motorcycles, and dune buggies.
While these forms of off-road transportation can seem harmless and fun, they have the potential to cause serious personal injuries. Especially when drivers ignore proper safety precautions. Driving these kinds of vehicles requires a commitment to safety that should be embraced by any off-roading enthusiast. When you’re off-roading in Ontario this spring and summer, read the rules of safe off-road driving before heading out.
Provincial rules and regulations for off-roading in Ontario
Off-roaders are subject to a long list of rules that are outlined in the Off-road Vehicles Act of Ontario. Riders are required to acquire specific permits for off-roading in Ontario. They are subject to plate and insurance requirements that are designed to regulate riders and keep the public safe.
Riders must be 12 years or older to drive an off-road vehicle. However, there is one exception when an adult provides close supervision on land that is occupied by the vehicle owner. Every off-road vehicle must be registered with the Ministry of Transportation. This is regardless of whether it is a new or used vehicle. Once this step is completed, owners of the vehicle will be issued a permit and a licence plate. The driver must carry permits at all times. Vehicles with four wheels must have the plate installed at the rear of the vehicle. Off-road vehicles with less than four wheels must have the plate installed at the front of the vehicle.
Once the off-road vehicle leaves the owner’s property, the driver must also have liability insurance. They must be able to present proof of liability insurance should it be requested by local police. Riders are also required to wear a helmet when they venture off their own property. They are subject to all the rules and regulations outlined for car drivers in the Ontario Highway Traffic Act. This includes regulations for impaired driving from the influence of alcohol and drugs. Should the owner of the vehicle allow someone else to drive their off-road vehicle, the owner will be held responsible for any incidents that could potentially occur.
Where you can and can’t go off-roading in Ontario
Most public roads are not available to off-road vehicles. This includes shoulder lanes, median lanes, and any ditch that runs alongside a public road. There are some exceptions, with the Ontario government mentioning that off-road vehicles may drive directly across a public road or on other designated roads by the Ministry of Transportation. The MTO website elaborates on exceptions for off-road vehicles with full details listed in Ontario Regulation 316/03.
Further, some farming vehicles that fall into the category of an off-road vehicle are able to drive on public roads as well. Provincial parks may also have specific rules regarding the use of roads with an off-road vehicle. Elsewhere, emergency personnel are typically allowed to use public roads if they are performing necessary duties.
For anyone curious about properly registering and insuring their off-road vehicle with the Ministry of Ontario, they can do so directly through Service Ontario.
Helmet use and other rules for off-roading in Ontario
Ontario’s Highway Traffic Act confirms that all riders on any sort of off-road vehicle must wear a motorcycle helmet when riding. Helmets must meet the standards of traditional motorcycle helmets and must at all times be fastened correctly under the rider’s chin. Face shields and goggles are also encouraged to protect riders from windburn, dirt, dust, and direct sunlight. Off-roading can often result in branches and twigs being kicked up in certain wooded areas. Proper goggle use can prevent injuries from such debris.
Riders are subject to many of the laws for traditional drivers on public roads and must comply with police should they be requested to stop. Additionally, any collision must be reported for an accident that results in injury or damage exceeding $2,000. As we’ve already referenced, it is also illegal to operate an off-road vehicle while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Any driver that is caught carrying a second passenger on a vehicle designed for one rider will also be subject to fines and penalties.
The Snowmobiler’s Code of Ethics is a great resource for any off-road rider as it offers clear rules and regulations that should be followed by all riders across Ontario.
Seriously injured while off-roading in Ontario? Contact De Rose Lawyers.
Should you or a loved one experience any sort of ATV or off-road vehicle accident this season, contact De Rose Lawyers. Our team is highly experienced in handling claims of this nature. Remember, you deserve ATV accident compensation when serious personal injuries occur. Call De Rose Lawyers at 1-855-337-6731 today.