Beginning on April 12, 2018, turban-wearing members of the Sikh religion who are over the age of 18 will be able to freely express their religion by riding a motorcycle without the use of a helmet in Alberta. The Vehicle Equipment Regulation in the Traffic Safety Act is being amended through a Ministerial Order.
British Columbia and Manitoba have already passed similar laws exempting turban-wearing Sikhs to ride motorcycles without helmets for religious reasons.
According to the 2011 census, Alberta has the third highest Sikh population in Canada with more than 52,000 individuals identifying themselves as part of the Sikh religion.
SAFETY CONCERNS FOR MOTORCYCLISTS
Unfortunately, with the thrill and excitement of riding a motorcycle comes great risk to the rider’s safety. While many motor vehicle accidents are very dangerous, a motorcycle accident may be life threatening. Doctors in Alberta have voiced concerns about the huge risks to public safety that may arise by not wearing a helmet while operating a motorcycle.
Motorcycle accidents tend to cause more severe injuries than an accident in a motor vehicle because the motorcyclist does not have the protection of the car body. According to Transport Canada, in 2015 there were 200 motorcyclists killed in collisions (10% of all driver deaths) and 1,243 motorcyclists who sustained serious injuries (12.1% of all drivers who sustained serious injuries).
Motorcyclists are especially vulnerable road users. Operating a motorcycle exposes the rider to a variety of hazards including wind, rain, hail, unexpected snowfall, extreme heat and other hazards including collisions and losing traction. Statistics show that a disproportionately high number of catastrophic injuries, such as brain damage, broken bones, paralysis, and death, are sustained by motorcyclists.
Wearing an appropriate motorcycle safety helmet is one of the most important factors in preventing or reducing head injuries. Thus, the law requires motorcycle operators and passengers to wear an approved motorcycle safety helmet. Operators must also ensure that passengers under the age of 16 also wear a proper safety helmet.
CHECKLIST FOR BUYING A HELMET
The following are some pointers to assist when purchasing a motorcycle helmet:
- Choose a helmet that meets DOT, Snell or ECE helmet safety standards.
- Ensure that the helmet displays the proper label and meets safety-helmet labelling requirements.
- Choose a full-face helmet, which provides the best protection in a collision and protection from wind, dust, rain, insects and debris.
- Choose a bright colour to provide better visibility or add reflective tape to the sides and back for greater visibility.
- Choose a helmet that feels snug around the entire head. Try it on for 10 to 15 minutes to ensure that no pressure points develop, which may cause headaches while riding.
- Ensure that the helmet chin strap is easy to fasten, release and adjust and be sure that it can be fastened securely.
- Avoid buying a used helmet. If the used helmet has been involved in a crash it may have some damage that is not obvious. Motorcycle helmets are not designed for multiple impacts.
- It is important to replace your helmet if it has been dropped, involved in a crash or showing signs of wear. Helmets have an expiry date. It is recommended that helmets be replaced every five years, even if it has not been involved in an impact.
SPRING SAFETY CONCERNS ASSOCIATED WITH MOTORCYCLISTS
Now that spring has finally sprung, motorcycle riders are itching to get back out on the road. In Alberta, the spring weather can make the roads more challenging due to potholes and loose gravel.
In the beginning of spring, potholes can be found throughout Alberta’s roadways. Potholes are caused by snow melting and re-freezing throughout the winter.
Motorcyclists are encouraged to always look well ahead for potholes and never follow a vehicle too closely to prevent noticing a pothole at the very last second. As a motorcyclist, it is best to avoid potholes. If you cannot avoid a pothole, it is recommended that you slow down as much as possible and drive in a straight line over the pothole, standing up slightly to allow your knees to absorb the shock.
Driving on Gravel
The City of Calgary (and many other cities/towns in Alberta) uses a combination of salt and gravel in the winter to provide traction for drivers during the slippery months. Once the snow melts and temperatures rise, the salt and gravel mix leaves behind residue on the roadways. This residue can be hazardous, especially to motorcyclists.
It is recommended when riding on gravel that motorcyclists avoid making sudden or sharp adjustments and avoid braking on sand or gravel, if possible. If the rider cannot avoid braking on residue, it is suggested that riders apply even, light pressure to their brakes. Riding in existing tire tracks is also highly recommended during the spring season, if possible. Furthermore, riders should keep their centre of gravity stable and balanced and should not look down to avoid losing control of their bike.
If you or a loved one were the victim of a motorcycle accident, do not hesitate to contact a personal injury lawyer as you may be entitled to compensation for the damages you have suffered. Please contact the award winning lawyers at Cuming & Gillespie LLP to get started with a free case evaluation either online or by calling 403-571-0555. We are dedicated to providing you with the legal help you deserve.