Stettler and area residents should keep a close watch as amendments are being proposed by Alberta Minister of Transportation Brian Mason.
If the amendments to the Alberta Traffic Safety Act (TSA), successfully winds its way through the legislature, Albertans will be required to wear helmets when using off-highway vehicles (OHVs), such as snowmobiles, dirt bikes and ATVs.
There will be exceptions to the amendments. The use of OHVs for farming and ranching work would be exempt under the Occupational Health and Safety Code.
From 2002-13, nearly 200 people died while riding ATVs in Alberta, and 40 per cent of those deaths occurred from head injuries.
Almost all of those head injury deaths happened because the deceased was not wearing a helmet, and legislation has been introduced to change how the province handles helmets on ATVs and dirt bikes.
“For years, Albertans have been asking their government to take action to reduce the unnecessary injuries and deaths caused by head injuries on OHVs,” Mason stated in a press release.
Alberta’s Off-Highway Vehicle Association is on board with the proposed changes to the act.
“Helmets are the first piece of safety equipment we strongly recommend to our users,” President Brent Hodgson said. “We applaud the government for introducing these amendments.
The TSA amendments would also specifically exempt private property, First Nations and Métis settlement lands.
“Brain injuries are the leading cause of injury and death for ATV riders,” Denise Pelletier, an ATV helmet advocate said. “I had the misfortune of becoming one of the statistics after being critically injured while riding. I was not wearing a helmet.”
About 20 people are killed every year in Alberta while operating OHVs, according to the Injury Prevention Centre. In 2015 alone, more than 1,000 children under the age of 16 were injured while riding OHVs.