Farmers exempt from new off-road helmet rules

Province requiring helmets on public land because there are 
so many ATV-related injuries and fatalities

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Farmers and ranchers at work will be exempt from a proposed new law requiring off-highway vehicle users to wear helmets while operating on public land in Alberta.

Amendments to Alberta’s Traffic Safety Act will require recreational users of all-terrain vehicles, snowmobiles, motorcycles, and other such off-highway vehicles to wear helmets on public land.

But the amendments wouldn’t require the use of helmets for farming and ranching work, the province said. Certain provisions in the Occupational Health and Safety Code call for workers who ride off-highway vehicles to wear helmets, but farm and ranch work would continue to be exempt. The proposed amendments would also specifically exempt private property — which is land owned by the operator of the off-highway vehicle, or land owned by someone who has given permission to the operator to ride there.

The proposed amendments would also allow for future exemptions to be made via regulations, the province said — for example, for operators of OHVs fitted with rollover protection structures and seatbelts.

The province saw 185 fatalities from ATV-related injuries between 2002 and 2013. Of those, the province said, nearly 80 per cent involved people not wearing helmets. The province estimates almost 6,000 people go to an emergency room each year because of an ATV-related injury.

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