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Maintaining safety standards for recreational motorists

In Alberta, an off-highway vehicle (OHV) is defined in the Traffic Safety Act as any motorized mode of transportation built for cross-country travel on land, water, snow, ice or marsh or swamp land or on other natural terrain, and without limiting the generality of the foregoing, includes, when specifically designed for such travel.

OHV Helmet Bylaw in Effect

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The Government of Alberta has amended the Traffic Safety Act to include a new law for off-highway vehicles (OHVs). This means that helmets are now mandatory for anyone riding an OHV on public land.

The term OHV refers to any motorized vehicle built for cross-country travel on land, ice, and snow.

Commonly-used OHV variants include all-terrain vehicles (ATVs), snowmobiles, dirt bikes, utility terrain vehicles, and side-by-sides.

Before you take to the trails, familiarize yourself with a few commonsense local rules, regulations and behaviours that will allow you to enjoy riding your OHV in the MD while keeping yourself and others safe on the trail.

Rules of the Road for OHV Users

Respect Private Property

Ask permission before using a trail or field. Land owners may have given specific groups permission to use their land, or there may be rules they ask you abide by on their land such as opening and shutting gates. Even if you have asked permission before, it's a good idea to check again if something changes (a gate has been put up, a no trespassing sign, or anything blocking trail entrances). Always leave the trail as you found it.

Yield to Other Trail Users

Pull over to the right and allow the other rider to pass. Trails can be narrow, so try to get over to the right as far as you can. If someone is close behind you, stop and pull over to let them pass. Do not try to race them, or speed up beyond your comfort level. If you are the one passing, do not bully the other rider by driving too close. Thank the other rider for allowing you to pass. Slow down to walking speed.

Watch for Animals

Horses can be easily spooked by ATVs. If you see a horse coming up the trail, pull over your ATV, get off the ATV and take off your helmet. This will generally avoid spooking. It's a nice gesture to warn horseback riders of other ATVs in the area in case they're riding spooky or young horses.

Yield to Hikers

Stop and allow hikers to pass you to avoid spraying mud and debris at them. If they're walking down a hill, allow them to pass going up.

Be Aware of Your Surroundings

If you're riding near a camp ground or public space, ensure that you're not picking up too much dust. Slow down, and go through quietly. Never pull over at the top of a hill! Be aware and allow others to be aware of where you have stopped. You should only stop on a straight away where you can be seen in both directions.

Check the Weather and Dress Appropriately

If it’s hot out, ensure you bring water with you to keep hydrated. Always bring an extra bottle in case one becomes dislodged from your ATV. Bring bottles back with you and recycle them at home or at a receptacle at the park. Take breaks and acknowledge your energy level. Check with other riders too. Chances are, if you're a little bit tired they may be as well. Breaking your concentration on the trail for a while can help re-energize your brain and eyes, and make you more aware of on-coming danger.

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