If you’re planning to ride some trails in beautiful Canada, there’s no need to go for the most expensive tires, as some inexpensive mud tires will give you a top experience. Before starting your adventure, you will need to get updated on the rules and regulations of operating your ATV in the country, as some might greatly differ from the ones in your state.
Registering your All Terrain Vehicle
Before taking your ATV for a ride, you need to have it registered and plated by the Ministry of Transportation. Keep in mind that an ATV cannot be registered to a person who hasn’t turned 16 years old.
In order to register your vehicle, you need:
A permit showing that you are the legal owner.
License plates having unexpired validation stickers.
Appropriate insurance for your vehicle.
You can’t even register as the owner of the vehicle if you don’t have insurance from a private insurance company. Remember to carry the liability insurance card (or the „pink slip”) whenever you are driving a vehicle.
You may be asked for proof of insurance by a police officer. If you can’t prove that your vehicle is insured, you will face a fine. Keep in mind that without having your ATV insured, you are allowed to ride only on your property.
In addition to proof of insurance, you should always carry with you a document that states your age, the certificate of vehicle registration, and your driver’s license (if you are planning on driving on public roads).
Driving your ATV on-road and off-road
Now that you have proper insurance and registration for your vehicle, it is time to be aware of laws and regulations regarding on-road and off-road driving.
Local authorities can determine if off-road vehicles have access to roads under their authority. Furthermore, they can also impose which road, what part of the road, which time slot and season the ATVs are allowed to be used on/in.
You should be up to date to law changes and regulations in order to keep yourself safe, avoid fines or even more severe penalties.
Register your ATV and fix the license plate in a visible place.
At all times carry the ATV’s registration permit.
If you haven’t turned 12 yet, you can only drive the ATV on your family’s property or while you are being supervised by an adult.
If you are at least 16 years old and have a valid driver’s license, you can cross a highway where it is permitted.
Both the driver and the passenger must wear a certified helmet. It should be securely strapped under the chin.
For on-road riding, an ATV must have four wheels touching the ground, steering handlebars, and a driver’s seat.
The driver must fasten his/her seatbelt, if possible.
If your ATV has a maximum weight of 450 kilograms and its width is shorter than 1.35 m (without mirrors) you may drive it along some provincial highways or municipal roads – only if it is permitted by local authorities.
In general, driving an ATV is allowed on highways with low traffic volumes. But you should check with the provided official information in order to be sure which roads you may travel to.
You must be at least 16 years old and have a legitimate G2 or M2 license.
Use protective equipment required by law.
The number of passengers should not exceed the number of available seating positions.
The passenger has to be at least 8 years old. Also, he/she must use the foot rest and wear a seat belt (if possible). Wearing an approved helmet is required by law.
Don’t exceed the speed limits set by the municipality.
Rules of the road
If you are riding along a public road, keep your headlights and taillights turned on.
Drive your vehicle in the same direction as traffic using the shoulder of the road. If the shoulder is not safe for you, it is permitted to use the traveled portion of the road.
You can’t drive your ATV faster than 20km/h on roads with a speed limit of 50 km/h or less. If the road has a speed limit higher than 50 km/h, the maximum speed for you will be 50 km/h.
Local authorities may decide on lower speed limits or supplementary rules for All Terrain Vehicles.
No matter if you are off-road riding or on-road riding, you should always drive sober. It is against the law to drive any kind of vehicle while being affected by drugs or alcohol
Equipment required by law
For you and for the passengers
No matter your skill level, you should always wear protective equipment. A helmet that complies with the approved manufacturing standards is prescribed by regulation.
Furthermore, the law demands you to wear protective goggles (if the helmet doesn’t have a visor), closed footwear and any other piece of protective equipment legally required.
For your ATV
Keep in mind that your vehicle should be as visible as possible to other traffic participants. Your ATV should have at least a white headlight, a red taillight, and a rear brake light.
A rear-view mirror is required in order to observe other vehicles and to keep you safe. To have a street-legal vehicle, it should have a functioning exhaust system, braking system, and speedometer.
Furthermore, the authorities can impose any other equipment to be necessary.
Hitting the trails
After making sure that everything is all right regarding the paperwork and your vehicle, it is now time to have some fun. Avoid at all costs being one of those ATV riders that enter private properties, have a reckless style of riding, or make a lot of noise when riding.
Having an inappropriate style of riding will cause trails to get shut down. Property owners might revoke the use of their land if they receive numerous complaints or feel that ATVers are not being respectful.
Make sure that you and your friends are aware of the rules and regulations. Here are some of the rules that you should be following:
ATV drivers must wear an appropriate helmet strapped under the chin.
Make sure that everything is all right regarding your ATV. Check the fluid levels, the gas, lights and tire pressure.
Do not venture on trails that are beyond your skill level. You will put yourself and other riders at risk.
Trail users should have with them insurance proof, registration, and a valid driver’s license.
Take into account the trail and weather conditions.
Be prepared to pay an entrance fee for some of the trails.
Don’t deviate from the main trails. The trails might be close to areas containing wildlife and wildflowers that can be easily damaged. This is why you shouldn’t make new trails and ride only on the signed trails.
Don’t leave anything behind (broken equipment, empty bottles, etc).
If you are bringing a pet to the trails, keep it on a leash at all times. Having your pet roaming around freely could cause serious accidents.
All trail users must slow down when meeting up with another vehicle and be ready to come to a full stop.
Don’t use an unpredictable style of riding. Sudden stops, quick starts or fast changes of direction will make it harder for other trail users to avoid a collision.
Don’t ride by yourself and inform someone where you want to go and when you will be back.
Don’t enter the water with your ATV. Always use the bridge for water crossing.
If your vision of the trail is limited by weather conditions or different obstacles, ride at a slower speed.
Keep your lights always turned in order to be more visible for other drivers.
If you are riding on private property, ask the owner for permission. Riding on his/her property without his/her acceptance means that you are trespassing.
You will need a permit
Obtaining a permit is necessary if you want to ride the trails of multiple trails organizations. There is the possibility to get them online or directly from the club. You can acquire a permit for a year, a month or even a day. Single-day permits are a great choice if you want to test the trail first before spending a larger amount of money.
Riding an ATV should be a lot of fun as long as you take care and obey the laws. Keep in mind that ATVing could be a lot more fun when you’re with great company.