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My BMX. Your ATV.

I grew up in the suburbs.  As a kid, I spent most school nights roaming the streets in packs, behind the handlebars of a BMX.  Our bike “gang” consisted of my twin brother Derek, my closest neighbour, Mark, and the neighbourhood bully Dave.  It was better to be with Dave than against Dave.

Over the years our gang members changed.  We spent more time on foot.  We roamed instead of rode.  And we eagerly but anxiously added girls to the gang.

And at age 16 – after a healthy dose of driver’s ed – our gang started driving.  My BMX got rusty.  My shoes weren’t as warn.  And life got a lot faster.

Fast forward 20 years.  I am visiting my now wife in her hometown of Tweed.  She lives on Stoco Lake and a stone’s throw from “the tracks”.  The Tracks are a part of the Eastern Ontario Trails Alliance and a frequent path for rural youth gangs, the Tweed version of Derek, Mark, Dave and I.

And I quickly learned that rural Ontario had youth gangs just like those found in the suburbs, with one notable exception.  The rural gangs have a much cooler form of travel – the all-terrain vehicle (ATV).

As a parent of young boys, I look forward to the days when my boys will form their own gang.  They’ll explore the outdoors.  They’ll make lifelong friends.  And, of course, there will be youthful hijinks.

But as a plaintiff personal injury lawyer, I fear the rural youth gangs.  More apt, I fear their mode of transportation.  I have represented many youths injured in ATV accidents.  And those injuries can be severe.

ATV travel can be safe.  Just as travelling on a BMX can be dangerous.

ATV accidents can be avoided, or their impacts can be diminished.  Wear a helmet.  Use a seatbelt and footrests, where provided.  Don’t drink and drive.  Use common sense.

For more safety tips see the Ministry of Transportation’s “Smart Ride Safe Ride” publication, here: http://www.mto.gov.on.ca/english/driver/pdfs/smart-ride-safe-ride-ATV.pdf

There are additional steps and obligations when it comes to owning and operating an ATV.

  1. Make sure the ATV is insured: The law in Ontario prohibits a person from driving an ATV on land not occupied by the owner unless it is insured (Insurance Act).  Further, an ATV must be insured when on public highways (Highway Traffic Act).
  2. Make sure the ATV insurance policy has enhanced statutory accident benefits (or no-fault benefits): This will insure that an injured driver – at fault or not – will have access to benefits for treatment and income replacement benefits, among other things.

There are exceptions to insuring an ATV.  As an example, an ATV owner can operate the ATV on his property without having the vehicle insured.  But failing to ensure your ATV – even when not required – can result in serious pitfalls.

Why risk it?  If you can afford to drive an ATV you can afford to insure it.  And you can’t afford not to.

If an uninsured ATV is involved in a collision with another motor vehicle, the driver of the uninsured vehicle will not have insurance available.  Any liability will then be the responsibility of the driver and or owner of the ATV.  And the financial burden in such a case can be crippling.

ATV’s are fun.  Like most fun things, they can be dangerous.  No matter what kind of gang you ride with, make sure that your ride is insured and insured adequately.  Contact your insurance broker today to confirm that your ATV has appropriate coverage and to discuss enhanced statutory accident benefits.

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