As of May 15, 2017, off-highway vehicle (OHV) riders in Alberta will be required under the Traffic Safety Act to wear a helmet. Failure to wear a helmet will result in a fine ranging of $155. Failure to wear a CSA-compliant helmet will result in a fine of $93. Under the legislation, ATVs, snowmobiles and dirt bikes are all considered OHVs.

While the government encourages the use of helmets at all times to reduce the risk of injury, there are a few specific exceptions to the requirement, including:

  • on your own property;

  • on private property with permission of the owner;

  • on First Nations Reserve or Metis Settlement lands, unless they have a law requiring it;

  • when performing farm and/or ranch work; and

  • if you wear a turban as a member of the Sikh faith, or have received an exemption from Alberta Transportation.

At Cuming & Gillespie LLP, we see the impact a traumatic brain injury can have on the injured individual and their family. The Injury Prevention Centre at the University of Alberta reports that on average, 19 Albertans die every year from OHV accidents and last year, over 1,000 Alberta children under 16 years of age were injured while riding on an OHV.

Emmas Skiing Adventure

Denise Pelletier, a volunteer with the Foothills Hospital Patient Experience Program, played an integral role in advocating for this law. In 2001, Denise sustained a traumatic brain injury when she was thrown off an all-terrain vehicle. She was airlifted to Foothills Medical Centre, put into an induced coma, underwent brain surgery and was given a less than 5% chance of living an independent life should she survive. Denise overcame the odds and learned to walk, talk and read again. Today, in addition to her career as a Human Resources Practitioner, Denise acts as an advocate for safety. In her support of the amendments to the Traffic Safety Act, Denise was quoted as saying:

“Brain injuries are the leading cause of injury and death for ATV riders and I had the misfortune of becoming one of the statistics after being critically injured while riding. I was not wearing a helmet. I fully support this bill and the clear message it sends about just how much value the Alberta government places on the health, safety and quality of life of all riders.”

Denise spoke further of her experience at the Legislative Assembly in November 2016, when Bill 36, An Act to Enhance Off-Highway Vehicle Safety, was introduced:

Further to her efforts to encourage injury prevention, Denise wrote a children’s book, “Emma’s Skiing Adventure”, which aims to teach both children and parents the importance of helmet safety.Cuming & Gillespie LLP is proud to support Denise by helping to spread her message. This past ski season, Cuming & Gillespie LLP donated 175 copies of “Emma’s Skiing Adventure” to Canada Olympic Park. The books were handed out to participants of the toddler learn to ski program. We are hopeful that this, in conjunction with the work being done by Denise and countless others, will bring the topic of helmet use and injury prevention to the forefront. Whether skiing, bike riding, or riding an OHV, the simple step of wearing a helmet could save your life and will certainly reduce the risk of injury should an accident occur