Mandatory ATV helmet use makes sense
While nobody likes to see the government imposing unnecessary rules or regulations on their everyday lives, renewed calls for mandatory off-road motorized vehicle helmet use makes nothing but good sense.
The Alberta Centre for Injury Control and Research says there have been more than 100 ATV-related deaths in the province over the past decade, with most of the fatalities involving traumatic head injuries. Of those men, women and children who have died of head injuries in ATV accidents, more than 75 per cent were not wearing helmets.
Although the Klein, Stelmach and now Redford Conservative governments have so far declined to move forward with mandatory ATV helmet rules for Alberta, the Liberal opposition call for action last week will hopefully prompt some action.
“As a medical doctor, I have absolutely no doubt that legislating helmet use for ATV riders would save lives and reduce health-care costs, and it’s unconscionable for the government to not see this as being worthy of regulation,” said Official Opposition leader Dr. David Swann, who recently lost a nephew in an ATV accident. “Mandating helmet use would reduce suffering, disability and death among ATV riders and make Alberta law consistent with nearly every other Canadian jurisdiction.”
Any suggestion that an ATV helmet law would be unenforceable in the province misses the point: such a law would be aimed squarely at protecting the health and welfare of the ATV users themselves and would therefore need little, if any, enforcement in any event.
“While people always have a choice when it comes to obeying such laws, they need to ask themselves beforehand if breaking the law is worth getting fined for or possibly losing their life or endangering the life of another – that’s often where the real benefit lies,” he said.
Other provinces have had mandatory ATV helmet use rules in place and it certainly hasn’t deterred people from enjoying the motorized vehicles. It hasn’t happened in other jurisdictions and it wouldn’t happen here.
With ATV use continuing to be very popular across Alberta, and in particular in the weekend recreational areas such as the West Country, the time is long overdue for the provincial government to make ATV helmet use mandatory for all riders and passengers.
Although it may prove hard to determine whether mandatory helmet use will actually lead to fewer ATV crash deaths – riders who wear helmets and crash aren’t likely to report their mishaps are they? – it’s a public safety move that needs to be made without delay.
Nobody likes government interference, but in some cases, like this one, it makes nothing by good sense.