ATV use is a very popular recreational activity for those in Alberta due to their economical, versatile, and thrill-seeking appeal. Unfortunately, recent injury data according to the University of Alberta informs us that Albertans are not riding ATVs safely, leading to serious injuries and sometimes even death.

According to the Injury Prevention Centre at the University of Alberta, every year an average of 16 Albertans die in ATV crashes. Head injuries are responsible for 41% of these deaths. The majority of those who died from head injuries (80%) were not wearing a helmet.

Each year approximately 5,200 Albertans visit emergency departments with ATV injuries. Over half of all ATV fatalities during this time period tested positive for alcohol.


In late April, 2018, a 31-year-old man died following a crash involving an off-highway vehicle west of Athabasca (150km north of Edmonton).

Three children were injured after the ATV they were riding on rolled over in April, 2018 southwest of Linden, Alberta. The oldest of the three was airlifted to a Calgary hospital, the other two children suffered minor injuries. None of the children were wearing helmets.

In June, 2018, a 12-year-old girl died of her injuries after her ATV rolled over in Central Alberta.

In late June, 2018, a 26-year-old man was pronounced death at the scene by EMS following a single vehicle accident in southeast Edmonton.

 These are disturbing reminders to us all to always exercise caution and common sense when operating an ATV.


An All-Terrain Vehicle, often known as an ATV, is a type of off-road vehicle and is often defined by having the following characteristics:

  • 4 low-pressure bearing tires, all in contact with the ground;
  • steered by handlebar;
  • seat designed to be straddled;
  • vehicle designed to carry a driver only and no passengers.

In Alberta, ATVs are considered off-highway vehicles according to the Traffic Safety Act.


As of May 2017, helmets are mandatory when operating an ATV in Alberta on public land. However, there are a number of circumstances where helmets are not required when riding an ATV. These exemptions are as follows:

  • 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;
  • If you are a member of the Sikh religion and wear a turban; and
  • If you are performing farming or ranching operations exempt from Alberta’s occupational health and safety laws.

Despite these numerous exemptions, it is strongly recommended that all riders wear a safety helmet. Helmets for ATVs must comply with the same standards that exist for motorcycle helmets.


If you are using an ATV for work or for recreation, it is important to follow these precautions to reduce your risk of injury:

  1. Ride sober: Do not drink alcohol or do drugs before or while operating an ATV. Impaired driving laws are the same for all motorized vehicles in Alberta.
  2. Get trained: Take an Alberta Off-Highway Vehicle Associate course or the Alberta Safety Council ATV course to educate yourself before riding an ATV.
  3. Clothing: Wear a helmet, eye protection, long pants, long sleeves, gloves, and non-skid shoes for every ride.
  4. Ride the proper size ATV: Always follow the manufacturer’s recommendations and remember that adult-sized ATVs are not appropriate for children under 16 years of age.
  5. Ride in daylight: Low light and reduced visibility will increase the chances of an accident.
  6. Do not take passengers: Most ATVs are not designed for passengers.
  7. Lighten your load: Check your owner’s manual for load limits and keep to those limits. Also use proper tie-downs to secure your load and properly distribute the weight.
  8. Keep your ATV in good repair.
  9. Always tell someone where you are going and check in when you return from your ride.


ATVs are operated similar to motorcycles in so far as the rider is most often seated above the engine. However, ATVs are designed to be used on off-road terrain and this element can make them very dangerous. The biggest danger facing ATV use is the possibility of a rollover, which can cause severe personal injuries requiring weeks or months of recovery.

Some of the most common personal injuries suffered by those involved in an ATV accident include:

  • fractures to the knees, lower legs, ankles, and feet;
  • fractures to the shoulders and upper arms;
  • head injuries ranging from cuts and bruises to traumatic brain injuries (TBI);
  • spinal cord injuries;
  • crush injuries;
  • internal injuries, including fractured ribs, organ damage, and internal bleeding;
  • burn injuries; and
  • whiplash.

If you or a loved one have suffered personal injuries as a result of an ATV accident and believe a third party is responsible, please contact the award winning and experienced lawyers at Cuming & Gillespie LLP online or call 403-571-0555. We will review your ATV accident case to determine the best approach to take and how we can help you recover compensation for your injuries.