ATV riding a fun summer activity, but the machines aren't toys, says safety advocates
Thunder Bay health unit had warned about the number of ATV-related injuries
While riding all-terrain vehicles is a fun activity in rural parts of the province, officials with the Canada Safety Council say they're not toys.
Children and teens, especially, need to be careful, said Mike Prud'homme, the manager of traffic safety with the Canada Safety Council.
"The older you get the smarter you get, and you realize there's certain things you can't do, but as a kid, you're like superman, like nothing can hurt you," he said. "You try everything."
Public health officials in the Thunder Bay, Ont., area recently warned of the relatively high numbers of emergency room visits due to injuries suffered by riders. About half the reported incidents involved riders aged 10 to 29.
Prud'homme added that younger riders may also not have the necessary strength to control or manoeuvre the vehicles.
In Ontario, changes in provincial bylaws in 2015 allowed more types of all-terrain vehicles to be driven on the sides of provincially-controlled highways, mandated the use of helmets and set age restrictions for passengers on ATVs.
When choosing a helmet, Prud'homme advised they should fit snugly without causing headaches.
"Dad, don't lend your helmet to your child: 'Here just take my helmet, go for a ride,'" he said. Because if [the child] gets in an incident, [the child] could have a double impact on [his or her] head."
According to the Ministry of Transportation, on-road ATV riding on legislated roadways can only be done by people 16 years-old or older who have at least a G2 or M2 license. Off-road riders have to be at least 12-years-old, unless they're directly supervised by an adult or while driving on land occupied by the vehicle's owner.