Nfld. & Labrador

ATV association wants side-by-side users to buckle up, despite no helmet law

Legislation doesn't say you need to hear a helmet, but even with a roll bar and a seatbelt, you should, says Rick Noseworthy.

Advice comes on heels of fatal side-by-side rollover in Bonavista that killed teen girl

Rick Noseworthy says everyone should wear a helmet on an ATV. (Jeremy Eaton/CBC)

An all-terrain vehicle is no toy, and anyone using one needs to use all of its safety features, warns the president of the Avalon Trailways Association.

Over the weekend, a 13-year-old girl died in Bonavista after a side-by-side ATV rolled over. Two other teens, both 13, suffered minor injuries and were taken to hospital.

Rick Noseworthy said the tragedy illustrates that these types of machines are not meant for unsupervised children.

Rick Noseworthy, with the Avalon Trailways Association, says ATV users need to use all available safety features. (Jeremy Eaton/CBC)

"A lot of things go through my mind. It's very tragic, the fact that this has affected two or three families, a young child dead and it's so preventable," said Noseworthy, who is also an ATV safety instructor.

Provincial legislation is clear, Noseworthy said. No one under the age of 16 should be allowed to drive an ATV or side-by-side — a vehicle he describes as the same size as a small pickup truck, weighing over a thousand pounds.

If you're on a skateboard or you're on a scooter or on a pedal bike you have to wear a helmet…- Rick Noseworthy

"When you look at it, parents would never think of giving their child a pickup to drive at 13, say, 'Here, just go and play.' But then some parents give them a side-by-side and say go play."

But under that same provincial legislation, side-by-sides don't require a helmet.

"The manufacturer recommends, and we strongly recommend, that you wear a helmet. But right now the provincial law says you do not have to wear a helmet in a side-by-side," said Noseworthy.

Rick Noseworthy says a roll bar isn't enough. Riders also need to buckle up and wear a helmet. (Jeremy Eaton/CBC)

"That's very frustrating in itself, to think that right now in Newfoundland if you're on a skateboard or you're on a scooter or on a pedal bike you have to wear a helmet, but you don't have to wear a helmet on a side-by-side."

Seatbelts, helmets, roll bars: All are necessary

Newer side-by-sides have more safety features, with seatbelts and rules on the dashboard. Some, Noseworthy said, are even equipped with roll bars.

But he takes issue with anybody who argues that a helmet is unnecessary when driving a machine with a roll bar. 

An average side-by-side ATV is about the same size as a small pickup truck, and weighs more than a thousand pounds. (Jeremy Eaton/CBC)

"They don't know what they're talking about. The reason you need a helmet and your seatbelt on and the roll bar — they work in conjunction together, they've got to have that," he said.

"If you don't have your seatbelt on, the very thing that's designed to save your life — the roll bar — you'll be ejected from the machine and the roll bar will squat and kill you. If you don't have your helmet on, your head can hit the roll bar or hit the ground, as simple as that you can be killed."

When out on an all-terrain vehicle, Rick Noseworthy says people should also wear driving gloves, long pants and a long-sleeve shirt. (Jeremy Eaton/CBC)

In his role with the ATV association, Noseworthy is an enthusiastic advocate of recreational vehicles. But he said user safety is a top priority. 

"Recreation is just that — recreation — but they all have to be operated responsibly."

With files from Jeremy Eaton