The Ministry of Transportation (MTO) has reached out to key stakeholders to inform them that they will be introducing an off-road vehicles (ORV) safety enhancement strategy this fall. This strategy will include a series of legislative amendments.
These proposed amendments come after the Office of the Chief Coroner called an inquest into the death of nine-year-old Horatio McLeod from an ORV collision in 2017. The inquest was held to raise awareness and provide recommendations to prevent similar incidents from occurring in the future. The verdict set out 24 recommendations to address ORV safety, 18 of which were addressed to MTO.
Ontario currently permits ORV use both on-road and off-road. The Highway Traffic Act (HTA) regulates on-road use and the Off-Road Vehicles Act (ORVA) regulates off-road use. This creates regulatory inconsistencies based on operating environment. There are four key problem areas MTO would like to address:
- Alcohol and drugs are highly overrepresented in severe ORV collisions.
- Drivers <16 have higher ER and hospitalization rates than any other age group and have greater difficulty controlling ORVs due to mass, strength; likely to have head injuries and fractures.
- No minimum age required for ORV passengers and no restrictions for passengers in single-rider ORVs. This does not align with on-road requirements.
- Increased risk of serious injury and death on ORVs where the operator was not wearing a seat belt at the time of collision, but seat belts are not required in Ontario unless fitted/installed by the manufacturer.
The ministry wants to hear feedback on the following key focus areas:
- Potential impacts to local economies resulting from proposed changes;
- Impacts to families and riders in secluded rural and Northern areas, including access to necessities;
- Resources available to enforce ORV safety and options for collaboration to identify ways to increase those resources;
- Challenges or limitations our proposals may pose to ATV riders; and
- Additional areas where emphasis is needed to address rider health and road user safety.
Please see the accompanying slide deck for more details.
It is expected that the legislative amendments will be included in a planned fall road safety bill with the proposed amendments hitting the Ontario Regulatory Registry in September.