Canada: The Road Not Taken: Off-Road Vehicle Safety

Last Updated: March 24 2017
Article by Michael J. Henry

The American poet Robert Frost wrote "Two roads diverged in a wood, and I – I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference". While these words illustrate the benefit of facing and surmounting challenges, so too do they reflect the need for vigilance when operating off-road vehicles. In this blog, I will review the law related to off-road vehicles, safety requirements and recommendations, and legal rights and responsibilities so that when you take the road less traveled, your journey will be as safe as it is enjoyable.

The Law: Off-Road Vehicles

Off-road vehicles (ORVs), when driven off-road (not on a "highway" as defined by the Highway Traffic Act) are governed by the Off-Road Vehicles Act. The Off-Road Vehicles Act defines an ORV as a vehicle which is propelled (not driven by muscular power or wind) and designed to travel on three wheels or, if part of a prescribed class of vehicle, four wheels.

When you operate an ORV in Ontario, you must register it with the Ministry of Transportation and have a valid, rear licence plate attached to it except in exempt regions such as far Northern Ontario (additional exemptions can be found in Ontario). You are also required to have motor vehicle liability insurance for your ORV.

The Off-Road Vehicles Act further requires that: the driver of an ORV be at least 12 years of age, unless supervised by an adult or driving on land owned by the ORV owner; a driver of an ORV who is less than 16 years of age, or does not hold a valid driver's licence (G1, M1, or greater), is not permitted to cross a highway; when operating an ORV the driver must carry the registration permit and the driver and passengers of an ORV must wear approved helmets which are securely fastened with a chin strap.

Possible Injuries Resulting From Off-Road Vehicles Use

Given the lack of traditional road safeguards, off-road travel is more hazardous and, as a result, any injuries can be severe. Such potential injuries include: head and brain injuries (lacerations, bruises, concussions and significant trauma); neck and spinal injuries (whiplash, nerve damage, fractures to the vertebrae, paralysis), torso injuries (internal bleeding, fractured ribs, impalement, internal organ damage); and injuries to arms and/or legs (fractures, sprains, strains).

Safety Recommendations

As with driving a motorcycle, ORV operation requires a heightened level of concentration, responsibility and awareness of potential hazards. It is imperative that your physical and mental states are not compromised in any manner whatsoever. You must not drive an ORV if you are sick, tired, injured, mentally unstable, or impaired. As the Ministry of Transportation states, "[ORVs] can offer hours of enjoyment for outdoor enthusiasts, as long as you obey the law and follow safety precautions." Below is a list of safety requirements and recommendations for operating an ORV.

Maintenance and Inspection: Review and be familiar with your ORV operator's manual. Undertake a thorough inspection of your ORV before your operate it. Be sure to check the tires (proper tire pressure; condition of the tire tread – look for worn or uneven tread, bulges and cracking) and damage to the tread, such as cuts or punctures. Check control system – ensure that all pedals, levers and switches are in good working order, brakes – test the brakes multiple times; cables – look for broken strands, kinks, or binding; lights – check the functioning of the headlight and any other lights; liquid levels (fuel, oil, and other fluid levels) to ensure that your ORV is in good working condition. If stored, continue to undergo regular maintenance over the seasons of use.

Gear and Apparel: The Off-Road Vehicles Act states that when operating an ORV (or traveling as a passenger) you must wear a helmet that complies with the regulations and that the chin strap of the helmet must be securely fastened under your chin. You must also wear protective clothing which fits well and does not have any parts which could become entangled in the ORV. It is also recommended that you wear goggles or an alternative form of eye protection.

Operation: Familiarize yourself with the terrain and trail before you get out. Be aware of and drive according to trail and weather conditions. Drive in designated off-roading areas only. Be exceptionally cautious when you turn, climb and descend hills, and when you cross obstacles or roads. Do not drive beyond your ability and skill level. Maintain control of your ORV at all times. Whenever possible, drive with others and advise a relative or friend of your intended destination and anticipated time of return. Bring a medical kit and cell phone in case of emergency. Do not consume alcohol, narcotics, or prescription medication that may make you dizzy or drowsy, or impair your ability to balance, steer, control speed, and judge distances.

Legal Rights and Responsibilities

The Off-Road Vehicles Act states that the owner of an ORV is liable for injury or damage when another individual operates the ORV with the owner's consent. This means that if you give permission to someone to operate your ORV and that person causes injury or damage, then you are liable for them.

If you are involved in an ORV accident and sustain personal injury as a result, the circumstances of the accident will dictate your entitlement to Statutory Accident Benefits (SABS) under your motor vehicle liability insurance policy. Like injuries arising from a car accident, the degree and extent of your injury, together with the associated recovery time, will help determine your eligibility for such benefits. However, if you acted recklessly or were impaired at the time of the accident, then it is likely that the levels of support and compensation to which you are entitled will decrease.

The ORV legal landscape can be as complex as the terrain and trails upon which ORV operators ride, so it is essential that you retain a lawyer who is an expert in this area of law if you are injured in or by an off-road vehicle. At Howie Sacks and Henry, we have the expertise to help you surmount the challenges of the road less traveled and the experience to provide you with the legal support you need.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on Mondaq.com.

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

Authors
Similar Articles
Relevancy Powered by MondaqAI
 
In association with
Related Topics
 
Similar Articles
Relevancy Powered by MondaqAI
Related Articles
 
Related Video
Up-coming Events Search
Tools
Print
Font Size:
Translation
Channels
Mondaq on Twitter
 
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
 
Email Address
Company Name
Password
Confirm Password
Position
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Accounting
 Anti-trust
 Commercial
 Compliance
 Consumer
 Criminal
 Employment
 Energy
 Environment
 Family
 Finance
 Government
 Healthcare
 Immigration
 Insolvency
 Insurance
 International
 IP
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Litigation
 Media & IT
 Privacy
 Real Estate
 Strategy
 Tax
 Technology
 Transport
 Wealth Mgt
Regions
Africa
Asia
Asia Pacific
Australasia
Canada
Caribbean
Europe
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
U.K.
United States
Worldwide Updates
Registration (you must scroll down to set your data preferences)

Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including your content preferences, for three primary purposes (full details of Mondaq’s use of your personal data can be found in our Privacy and Cookies Notice):

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting to show content ("Content") relevant to your interests.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, news alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our content providers ("Contributors") who contribute Content for free for your use.

Mondaq hopes that our registered users will support us in maintaining our free to view business model by consenting to our use of your personal data as described below.

Mondaq has a "free to view" business model. Our services are paid for by Contributors in exchange for Mondaq providing them with access to information about who accesses their content. Once personal data is transferred to our Contributors they become a data controller of this personal data. They use it to measure the response that their articles are receiving, as a form of market research. They may also use it to provide Mondaq users with information about their products and services.

Details of each Contributor to which your personal data will be transferred is clearly stated within the Content that you access. For full details of how this Contributor will use your personal data, you should review the Contributor’s own Privacy Notice.

Please indicate your preference below:

Yes, I am happy to support Mondaq in maintaining its free to view business model by agreeing to allow Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors whose Content I access
No, I do not want Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors

Also please let us know whether you are happy to receive communications promoting products and services offered by Mondaq:

Yes, I am happy to received promotional communications from Mondaq
No, please do not send me promotional communications from Mondaq
Terms & Conditions

Mondaq.com (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd (Mondaq). Mondaq grants you a non-exclusive, revocable licence to access the Website and associated services, such as the Mondaq News Alerts (Services), subject to and in consideration of your compliance with the following terms and conditions of use (Terms). Your use of the Website and/or Services constitutes your agreement to the Terms. Mondaq may terminate your use of the Website and Services if you are in breach of these Terms or if Mondaq decides to terminate the licence granted hereunder for any reason whatsoever.

Use of www.mondaq.com

To Use Mondaq.com you must be: eighteen (18) years old or over; legally capable of entering into binding contracts; and not in any way prohibited by the applicable law to enter into these Terms in the jurisdiction which you are currently located.

You may use the Website as an unregistered user, however, you are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the Content or to receive the Services.

You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these Terms or with the prior written consent of Mondaq. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information from the Content. Nor shall you extract information about users or Contributors in order to offer them any services or products.

In your use of the Website and/or Services you shall: comply with all applicable laws, regulations, directives and legislations which apply to your Use of the Website and/or Services in whatever country you are physically located including without limitation any and all consumer law, export control laws and regulations; provide to us true, correct and accurate information and promptly inform us in the event that any information that you have provided to us changes or becomes inaccurate; notify Mondaq immediately of any circumstances where you have reason to believe that any Intellectual Property Rights or any other rights of any third party may have been infringed; co-operate with reasonable security or other checks or requests for information made by Mondaq from time to time; and at all times be fully liable for the breach of any of these Terms by a third party using your login details to access the Website and/or Services

however, you shall not: do anything likely to impair, interfere with or damage or cause harm or distress to any persons, or the network; do anything that will infringe any Intellectual Property Rights or other rights of Mondaq or any third party; or use the Website, Services and/or Content otherwise than in accordance with these Terms; use any trade marks or service marks of Mondaq or the Contributors, or do anything which may be seen to take unfair advantage of the reputation and goodwill of Mondaq or the Contributors, or the Website, Services and/or Content.

Mondaq reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to take any action that it deems necessary and appropriate in the event it considers that there is a breach or threatened breach of the Terms.

Mondaq’s Rights and Obligations

Unless otherwise expressly set out to the contrary, nothing in these Terms shall serve to transfer from Mondaq to you, any Intellectual Property Rights owned by and/or licensed to Mondaq and all rights, title and interest in and to such Intellectual Property Rights will remain exclusively with Mondaq and/or its licensors.

Mondaq shall use its reasonable endeavours to make the Website and Services available to you at all times, but we cannot guarantee an uninterrupted and fault free service.

Mondaq reserves the right to make changes to the services and/or the Website or part thereof, from time to time, and we may add, remove, modify and/or vary any elements of features and functionalities of the Website or the services.

Mondaq also reserves the right from time to time to monitor your Use of the Website and/or services.

Disclaimer

The Content is general information only. It is not intended to constitute legal advice or seek to be the complete and comprehensive statement of the law, nor is it intended to address your specific requirements or provide advice on which reliance should be placed. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the Content for any purpose. All Content provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers hereby exclude and disclaim all representations, warranties or guarantees with regard to the Content, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. To the maximum extent permitted by law, Mondaq expressly excludes all representations, warranties, obligations, and liabilities arising out of or in connection with all Content. In no event shall Mondaq and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use of the Content or performance of Mondaq’s Services.

General

Mondaq may alter or amend these Terms by amending them on the Website. By continuing to Use the Services and/or the Website after such amendment, you will be deemed to have accepted any amendment to these Terms.

These Terms shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of England and Wales and you irrevocably submit to the exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of England and Wales to settle any dispute which may arise out of or in connection with these Terms. If you live outside the United Kingdom, English law shall apply only to the extent that English law shall not deprive you of any legal protection accorded in accordance with the law of the place where you are habitually resident ("Local Law"). In the event English law deprives you of any legal protection which is accorded to you under Local Law, then these terms shall be governed by Local Law and any dispute or claim arising out of or in connection with these Terms shall be subject to the non-exclusive jurisdiction of the courts where you are habitually resident.

You may print and keep a copy of these Terms, which form the entire agreement between you and Mondaq and supersede any other communications or advertising in respect of the Service and/or the Website.

No delay in exercising or non-exercise by you and/or Mondaq of any of its rights under or in connection with these Terms shall operate as a waiver or release of each of your or Mondaq’s right. Rather, any such waiver or release must be specifically granted in writing signed by the party granting it.

If any part of these Terms is held unenforceable, that part shall be enforced to the maximum extent permissible so as to give effect to the intent of the parties, and the Terms shall continue in full force and effect.

Mondaq shall not incur any liability to you on account of any loss or damage resulting from any delay or failure to perform all or any part of these Terms if such delay or failure is caused, in whole or in part, by events, occurrences, or causes beyond the control of Mondaq. Such events, occurrences or causes will include, without limitation, acts of God, strikes, lockouts, server and network failure, riots, acts of war, earthquakes, fire and explosions.

By clicking Register you state you have read and agree to our Terms and Conditions