Nfld. & Labrador·Fatal Fun

Safety regulations around snowmobiles, ATVs in N.L. under review, minister says

Minister Sherry Gambin-Walsh says the number of ATV and snowmobile fatalities in the province is "a very serious issue."

N.L. has highest death rate in Atlantic Canada in snowmobile incidents

Sherry Gambin-Walsh says Service NL is looking to increase the the minimum age for riders and make helmets mandatory. (Katie Breen/CBC)

The minister of Service NL says the provincial government is working to review the legislation for all-terrain vehicles and snowmobiles

As part of Fatal Fun, CBC's in-depth series about ATV and snowmobile fatalities in Atlantic Canada, it was found that more than 178 people have died in crashes in the region since 2012.

This is a very serious issue.- Sherry Gambin-Walsh

Sherry Gambin-Walsh said the Newfoundland and Labrador government is committed to making riding safer.

"They're very high numbers, and this is a very serious issue," she said on CBC Radio's On The Go.

"The child death review committee recently recommended a full review of the Motorized Snow Vehicle and All-Terrain Vehicles Act and regulations, and we intend to do just that."

Raising the minimum age for people riding recreational vehicles is part of the changes being considered, Gambin-Walsh said.

Under current N.L. regulations, wearing a helmet on a snowmobile is optional. (Newfoundland Snowmobile Federation)

Currently, a person must be at least 13 years old to operate a snowmobile, but a 12-year-old can do the driving if someone over the age of 19 is present.

Gambin-Walsh said she's also looking to change regulations around helmets. 

Newfoundland and Labrador has the highest death rate in the Atlantic provinces when it comes to snowmobile incidents, and it's the only province where wearing a helmet on a snowmobile is optional.

"The lack of the requirement to wear helmets does present a safety concern.… We are working to change that right now," said Gambin-Walsh.

"It is my intent to recommend that change."

Process needs to happen

But processes still need to be followed to make the changes in to law, she said.

A review of the legislation has been in the works for about a year, Gambin-Walsh said, but she can't say exactly when new snowmobile and ATV regulations will be tabled in the House of Assembly.

"There's a process that has to happen inside of government. You have to go to committee, go to cabinet, and then go into the House of Assembly to change legislation," she said.

"The legislation that's going through right now has gone through the process. And so we'll start to work on the legislation for the spring sitting, to get that ready now."

With files from On The Go

Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador 

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