Off-road vehicles are not 'toys' warn police after serious crashes leave 1 person dead

Police in Essex County are sending out a safety warning following two off-road crashes that left one person dead and seriously injured two more.

'There may be tree stumps that people aren't aware of then they hit those'

Police in Essex County are warning off-road vehicle users to drive carefully following two serious crashes in the area. (Toby Talbot/Associated Press)

Police in Essex County are sending out a safety warning following two off-road crashes that left one person dead and seriously injured two more.

An ATV and snowmobile collided Sunday in Wallaceburg on the Sydenham River, killing a 32-year-old Brantford man and leaving a 34-year-old Wallaceburg with serious injuries.

In a separate collision, a female passenger suffered life-threatening injuries in Lakeshore. Officers say the all-terrain vehicle she was riding on collided with a bridge on Big Creek. The male driver was not hurt.

The two crashes have prompted Amherstburg police to remind people that these off-road vehicles are not "toys."

"You need proper equipment, proper training and proper knowledge," said Amherstburg Police Const. Steve Owen.

Amherstburg Police Const. Steve Owen says riding ATVs or snowmobiles requires the correct equipment and knowledge. (Jason Viau/CBC)

Riding at night is especially dangerous, Owen said, because people can't see as well in unfamiliar territory.

"A lot of the complaints we get are [people] travelling through farmer's fields where they may be fenced, there may be tree stumps that people aren't aware of then they hit those," he explained.

Taking a joy ride on train tracks is also common, despite being considered trespassing and even risky, Owen added. A pile of snow may be mistaken for railroad ties, which could cause a serious collision.

Snowmobiles and speed limits

Rules of the road differ for ATVs and snowmobiles in Amherstburg.

All-terrain vehicles are only permitted on private property where the rider has been given permission.

Snowmobiles have more leeway — the winter vehicles can be ridden on the shoulder of a road.

They must also obey a speed limit of 20 km/h, when the posted limit is 50 km/h. When it's higher than that, the snowmobile can't go faster than 50 km/h.

Snowmobiles also must be registered and insured and the rider must be at least 16 with a valid driver's license.