May 17, 2005
Government introduces safety
measures for ATVs
After consulting with ATV user groups and health
professionals on measures to improve safety around the use of ATVs, Government
Services Minister Dianne Whalen announced today that government is increasing
the minimum age to operate an adult-sized ATV in the province to 16 years in an
attempt to reduce the number of injuries involving children and prevent the loss
Government is also developing a safety awareness campaign to promote the safe
use of ATVs in all parts of the province and to reduce the incidents of abuse
that are resulting in injuries and deaths, particularly among children. The fee
to register ATVs at point of purchase or transfer of ownership will increase by
$30 (from $20 to $50) to cover the cost of the awareness campaign and to provide
for more visible licence plates to assist with enforcement.
The measures come after a review by the department of the regulations in other
provinces, consultations with user groups, a joint position paper on the safe
use of ATVs from local health groups, and a number of ATV-related injuries and
deaths in this province. As under present legislation, northern Labrador is
exempt from the minimum age requirement until further consultation, in
recognition of the reliance in that portion of the province on ATVs for a wide
variety of purposes.
Government does recognize the benefit of allowing operators 14 or 15 years of
age learn to operate an ATV on smaller machines with an engine size no more than
90 cc. A person under 14 years of age will no longer be permitted to operate any
"Canadian medical research indicates that children under 16 do not have the
judgment, maturity or physical strength to operate these powerful adult-sized
machines," Minister Whalen said. "Children in this province are being seriously
injured and killed. It has become clear that permitting children between the
ages of 12 and 16 to operate ATVs under the supervision of adults does not go
far enough to ensure their safety."
Dr. Andrew Major, president of the Newfoundland and Labrador Medical
Association, today applauded government's move to strengthen legislation
respecting ATV safety.
"I am very pleased to see that the legislation before the House of Assembly will
raise the age limit for people who may operate these motorized vehicles. This
recognizes the significant risk of injury and death posed to younger children
who drive these machines. We know that the risk of injury to a driver younger
than 16 is estimated to be four times higher than an older individual driving a
machine of the same size," Dr. Major said. "The physicians of the province
welcome the development of healthy public policy that supports safer use of
The province�s two police forces also support the direction the government is
taking in attempting to get better control over this activity. "This is about
safety for children and we believe that these regulations will assist in
reducing the number of injuries we are seeing among young people inappropriately
operating ATVs," said RNC Staff-Sgt. June Layden. RCMP Sgt. Peter McKay said the
changes are a step in the right direction, particularly as it pertains to
raising the minimum age limit to 16 and cleaning up the ambiguities in the act.
"The development of an education campaign to promote the proper use of ATVs and
the commitment to do further consultation on mandatory operator training are a
direction we support. We look forward to working with the department on these
Legislation to give effect to these measures will be introduced in the House of
Assembly this week. The legislation also at least doubles a number of fines and
penalties for some violations under the act and regulations to provide a
deterrent against abuse. The maximum fine for careless driving will increase
from $500 to $1,000 for a first offence, while the fine for not wearing a helmet
will increase from $200 to $400. Fines for more serious offences such as driving
while impaired will increase from $500 to $1,500 for a first offence. It will
also include a new provision for vehicle seizure in cases of impaired driving.
"We believe this is a positive step to get illegal and careless activity under
control for the safety and protection of operators and residents, and to reduce
the public outcry against the abusive use of these machines in residential areas
and on town streets," Minister Whalen said. "We have a serious public policy
issue around the unsafe use of ATVs and we need to take action to ensure it is
Government is also introducing a 12-month amnesty on the payment of sales tax
for ATVs that have been privately re-sold to encourage the proper
re-registration of these vehicles. Under current regulations, ATVs are to be
registered at the time of purchase and when ownership is transferred. This
ensures owner/operator responsibility through improved identification of these
vehicles. Owners who fail to update the registration information of their ATV
after this amnesty period can be fined $400 under the legislation.
The department will conduct further consultation on mandatory insurance and
operator training, as well as enhanced safety measures around the use of
snowmobiles, before making recommendations to Cabinet on those issues in the
fall. In northern Labrador, consultations pertaining to ATVs will be done at the
same time as those for snowmobiles.
Media contact: Tracy Barron, Communications, (709) 729-4860, 690-6157
View Minister's Speaking Notes
- In 2003, five deaths and 50 injuries related
to ATV use were reported. Based on information available to us, an average
of a dozen children under the age of 14 are hospitalized each year with
- In June 2004, the Minister of Government
Services committed to reviewing the legislation pertaining to ATVs.
- In November 2004, the Newfoundland and
Labrador Medical Association, the Newfoundland and Labrador Public Health
Association and the Association of Registered Nurses of Newfoundland and
Labrador issued a joint position paper on the safe use of ATVs. The paper
recommended increasing the minimum age to operate an ATV to 16 years.
- In May 2005, government introduces
amendments into the House of Assembly in an attempt to reduce the incidents
of abuse that are resulting in injuries, particularly among children.
Key changes include:
- The minimum age for operating an adult-sized
ATV in this province is increasing to 16. Youth aged 14 and 15 are only
permitted to operate ATVs that have a maximum engine size of 90cc, and under
adult supervision. A person under 14 years of age is not permitted to
operate any size ATV.
- The one-time registration fee for ATVs is
increasing from $20 to $50 to cover the cost of a safety awareness campaign
on the proper use of ATVs, and to provide for more visible licence plates.
- A 12-month amnesty on the payment of
provincial sales tax for the re-registration of used ATVs, which were not
previously registered upon sale or transfer. This is meant to encourage
owners to update the registration information of their ATVs. This will
assist with enforcement.
- Increases in the fines and penalties for
violations under the act and regulations to provide a greater deterrent
against unsafe use.
- Some exemptions to the new age requirement
will continue to apply in northern Labrador pending further consultation.
- Government will embark on a safety awareness
campaign to ensure all users, particularly youth and parents, are aware of
the existing and new rules pertaining to their use. This includes emphasis
on the age requirements; use of helmets; proper registration of machines,
and where ATVs can be operated legally.
2005 05 17