THUNDER BAY - Police are reminding anyone heading outdoors this long weekend to exercise caution and common sense, especially when operating off-road vehicles.
The Ontario Provincial Police partnered with Crime Stoppers and the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry to hold a public safety display at Canadian Tire on Saturday to educate people about how to stay safe this hunting season.
“We have hunting season coming up and a lot more all-terrain vehicles (ATVs) in the surrounding area and we want to make sure we work to educate the public regarding ATV safety,” said Sgt. David Moscall with the Thunder Bay OPP.
According to Moscall, last year there were 22 ATV related deaths in the province of Ontario and many more injuries.
“Most of those deaths have some common denominators, and those are speed, helmets, and alcohol,” he said. “If you take those elements out, you reduce that number and we would like to get that number down to zero.”
With more people riding ATVs, and many new riders, Moscall said there has been an increase in the number of ATV related deaths and injuries.
“There’s more inexperienced riders out there right now,” he said. “We’ve seen a spike in ATV accidents. We are trying to reduce that and the best way to do that is education and common sense.”
To operate an ATV off road, riders must be at least 12-years-old and wear an appropriate helmet. When riding on approved provincial highways or municipal roads, riders must be at least 16-years-old, have a valid G2 license, and wear a proper helmet.
Moscall said people have been receptive to the lessons being offered by the OPP and Crime Stoppers, but he said it comes down to changing the mindset of people who tend to think of the weekend as a time to unwind. But being too relaxed can cost a life.
“People work hard and they want to relax on their time off and they go into a more relaxed mode,” Moscall said. “They are away from the hustle and bustle of the city and I think sometime they just forget. I think we have to change that mindset a little bit to say that an accident can happen at any time and let’s take some steps to avoid that.”
For more information on all ATV regulations, visit the Ministry of Transportation website.