All-Terrain Vehicles and Off-Road Vehicles Safety
An All-Terrain-Vehicle (ATV) is an Off-Road Vehicle (ORV) that:
- Has four wheels, the tires of which are all low pressure and in contact with the ground;
- Has steering handlebars;
- Has a seat that is designed to be straddled by the driver;
- Is designed to carry a driver only and no passengers; and,
- Meets the requirements of the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Act (MVSA), the Ontario Regulation of the Highway Traffic Act, and the American National Standards Institute (ANSI).
The following are not considered ATVs, but instead, types of ORVs:
- passenger designed ATVs (also known as a two-up);
- side-by-sides (SxS);
- utility terrain vehicle (UTV);
- dune buggies;
- off-road dirt bikes, etc.
- It is always a good idea to wear a helmet when operating your ATV. On-premises other than property owned by the vehicle owner, a helmet must be worn. Drivers should ensure their helmet meets the standards of the Highway Traffic Act, e.g. helmets certified by DOT, SNELL, or other agencies that meet the standards.
- Take a course to learn proper ATV operation and maintenance. Visit the Canada Safety Council for a list of available courses.
- Read your owner’s manual before operating your ATV and be sure to follow safe operating procedures.
- No alcohol or drugs should be consumed while operating an ATV.
- Do not operate an ATV at excessive speeds. Choose appropriate speeds based on the terrain, visibility, conditions and your experience.
- While operating your ATV, wear appropriate protective clothing.
More information: Off-Road Vehicles Act
By law, all ATVs must be registered with the Ministry of Transportation, even if operated only on your property. A one-time fee is payable at a Driver and Vehicle Licence Issuing Office. A licence plate and registration permit are provided together with mounting instructions.
ATVs may not be registered to anyone under the age of 16.
Persons under 12 years of age are not permitted to operate an ATV except on the owner’s property or trails while under the close supervision of an adult.
Persons between the ages of 12 and 15 years of age are permitted to operate an ATV unsupervised on public or private trails.
If crossing the road on an ATV, the driver must have a valid G2/G driver’s licence or an M2/M motorcycle licence.
A helmet meeting the standards of the Highway Traffic Act must be worn when operating an ATV on premises other than property owned by the vehicle owner (i.e. helmets certified by DOT, SNELL, or other agencies that meet the standards).
Both the owner and operator of an ATV (or parents if applicable) are responsible for any violations of the Highway Traffic Act and are liable for any injury or property damage caused by the vehicle.
The law requires that ATVs be insured under a motor vehicle liability policy. In Ontario, this means an automobile insurance policy. Both the owner and the driver are liable for injuries or property damage arising out of the operation of an ATV.
Personal, Universal, and Farm Liability Policies are not considered motor vehicle liability policies in accordance with the Insurance Act. Personal and farm liability policies usually exclude “the operation of any vehicle subject to motor vehicle registration” such as ATVs. Therefore they would offer no protection or defence against legal action.
Before operating your ATV, verify your coverage with your insurance company.
ATVs and Children
Many ATV-related injuries are caused by children using adult-size ATVs as there is a drastic difference in weight between the child and the machine. Also, ATVs have a high centre of gravity, making them more likely to roll over and land on the rider.
Manufacturers of adult-size ATVs prohibit children under 16 from operating their machines. When choosing an ATV for your child, it is important to review the ATV’s specifications and to take into consideration your child’s size and skill level.
For safety reasons, operators under 16 years of age are not permitted to cross the road. You must possess a driver’s licence to cross the road. Also, ATVs may not be registered to anyone under the age of 16. See also DRIVER REQUIREMENTS on laws on youth operating ATVs.
It is against the law to operate an off-road vehicle while impaired by alcohol or drugs. ATV operators can be charged for drinking and driving like any motor vehicle such as cars, trucks, boats etc.
Visitors to Ontario
Can those visiting Ontario operate their ATVs during their visit? What if they don’t have a licence plate for their ATV?
A temporary trip permit cannot be issued for ATVs however visitors can operate their ATV in Ontario for a period of up to three months, provided they carry the original or a true copy of the vehicle registration or Certificate of Title for their ATV. In addition, visitors must have proof of insurance and a driver’s licence.
A licence plate is not required on an ATV if the location where the visitor resides does not require one.
Here are some guidelines that we ask that ATV, ORV or Snowmobile owners and riders read before venturing out.
- Most property in the Town of LaSalle is privately owned. This includes farm fields.
- If you do not have the consent of the property owner to be on their property or travel across their property then you are TRESPASSING.
- If you trespass and cause damage to their property you may be held civilly and criminally responsible.
- As per Section 4.1(1) of Ontario Regulation 316/03 under the Highway traffic Act of Ontario, ATVs and ORVs are permitted to be operated on municipal highways/roadways if the municipality creates a by-law that permits this activity.
- The Town of LaSalle has NOT created such a by-law therefore;
- The Town of LaSalle DOES NOT permit ATVs, ORVs or Snowmobiles to be operated on Town-owned lands, trails, sidewalks or roadways.
- Where can ATVs, ORVs and Snowmobiles be legally operated in the Town of LaSalle? The short answer is; on any property that you own or any property where you have permission to operate them.
While an open field may seem like a great place to harmlessly operate an ATV, ORV or Snowmobile it is also a great place for our farmers to raise crops and support their families. Unfortunately, both cannot occur simultaneously in the same place.
- Every farm field in the Town of LaSalle is privately owned.
- The owners/farmers rely on the income from the yield of that crop.
- Every plant that is destroyed by being run over or torn up by vehicles is money directly out of their pocket and causes an undue financial burden to the farmer.
- Farmers often plant crops over the winter such as winter wheat that may not be visible under the snow. Driving over the plants crushes and kills the crops.
- The bottom line is, this is private property and unless you have permission to be on or travel across these properties you are TRESPASSING.
- If you trespass and cause damage to their property or crops you may be held civilly and criminally responsible.
Essex Terminal Railway Tracks
While this location may seem like an innocuous location to operate ATV’s, ORV’s or Snowmobiles, there are several factors to consider which include;
- The railroad tracks and land adjacent to the railroad tracks are owned by Essex Terminal Railway and are therefore PRIVATE PROPERTY.
- There are NO TRESPASSING signs posted intermittently along the ETR corridor.
- If you are found on this property for ANY purpose and without the permission of ETR, then you are TRESPASSING.
- Anyone caught trespassing may be charged and their information forwarded to the ETR who may send a registered letter of trespass to the individual.
- Vehicles travelling along the ETR tracks disturb the aggregate under and around the wooden ties that hold the tracks in place which could result in a train derailment.
- Placing any object on the tracks or deliberately disturbing, modifying or damaging the tracks or ETR property could result in a criminal charge.
- Many homes abut this corridor that must endure the endless noise of off-road vehicles throughout the year.
- These homeowners are being deprived of the rightful enjoyment of their property.
- The ultimate message is to help prevent a disaster and respect the laws by staying off ETR property.
- Anyone operating their ATV, ORV or Snowmobile on private property may face charges under the trespass to property act, the Off-Road Vehicles Act or the Motorized Snow Vehicles Act.
- If any damage occurs to another person’s or business’s property, the person responsible may be held civilly liable and may be charged criminally with Mischief.
- Anyone who does not stop for a police officer when directed to do so can expect to be charged with the criminal offence of Flight under Section 249.1(1) of the Criminal Code.
- *It is not worth compounding what may be a warning or a ticket into a criminal offence.
Before operating your ATV, ORV or Snowmobile in the Town of LaSalle you MUST ask yourself:
- Am I complying with ALL pertinent legislation whether it be By-Laws, Provincial Law and Criminal Law?
- Am I safely operating my ATV or ORV?
- Am I creating a dangerous situation for myself or others?
- Am I being considerate and neighbourly, taking into consideration how my actions may affect other residents?
Please respect all laws, regulations, and safety guidelines at all times when operating any off-road vehicles.
For more information on laws and requirements for these vehicles please visit:
The Bottom Line:
- DON’T TRESPASS.
- If you see a no trespassing sign, don’t trespass. Certain areas do not require the posting of no trespassing signs and are automatically known in law as no trespassing such as farm fields.
- It is your responsibility to operate your ATV, ORV or Snowmobile ONLY where you have permission or on lands that you own.
- If you are confronted by a property owner and asked to leave then you must do so immediately.
- Be considerate.
- Follow the rules and guidelines.
- And never operate an ATV, ORV or Snowmobile after consuming drugs or alcohol.