May 17, 2005
(Government Services)

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 of life.

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 size ATV.

"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 ATVs."

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 additional aspects."

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 addressed."

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 ATV-related injuries.
  • 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                           9:30 a.m.

SearchHomeBack to GovernmentContact Us

All material copyright the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador. No unauthorized copying or redeployment permitted. The Government assumes no responsibility for the accuracy of any material deployed on an unauthorized server.
Disclaimer/Copyright/Privacy Statement