Canada

Newfoundland moves to cut ATV accidents

The government of Newfoundland and Labrador has tightened the rules governing all-terrain vehicles (ATVs).

The government of Newfoundland and Labrador has tightened the rules governing all-terrain vehicles (ATVs).

The machines are too dangerous for young children, Government Services Minister Dianne Whelan said Tuesday. "Children in this province are being seriously injured and killed," she said in a statement.

The government will introduce legislation intended to reduce the number of accidents and deaths.

"Canadian medical research indicates that children under 16 do not have the judgment, maturity or physical strength to operate these powerful adult-sized machines," Whelan said.

The legislation will:

  • Stop all children under 14 from driving ATVs.
  • Raise the minimum age to drive an adult-size ATV to 16.
  • Allow 14- and 15-year-olds to operate ATVs with engines under 90 cc, if supervised by an adult.

"The maximum fine for careless driving will increase from $500 to $1,000, while the fine for driving under the influence will triple for a first offense to $1,500. It will also include a provision for vehicle seizure and the fine for not wearing a helmet will double to $400," Whelan said.

ATV registration will rise to $50 from $20 to help pay for a safety awareness campaign and bigger licence plates that are more easily spotted.

"In a three-month period last year, I saw at least a dozen major injuries – ruptured liver, torn up lungs, broken pelvis, spinal fractures, major head injuries, things like that," said David Price, a pediatric surgeon at Janeway Children's Health and Rehabilitation Centre in St. John's.

The new rules should reduce the number of injuries, he said.

The government hasn't introduced mandatory training or insurance, but is looking at it, Whelan said.

Isolated communities in northern Labrador, where ATVs are widely used, are exempt from the new age restrictions pending further consultations.

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