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  Off-Road Vehicles - Do You Know the Rules of the Road?

Apr 11, 2014 10:17 ET

Spring has finally arrived and with it comes the sounds of ATVs, dirt bikes and other motorized off-road vehicles (ORV) enjoying the great outdoors. The Durham Regional Police would like to remind citizens of where they can and can’t ride and how to be safe while engaging in this popular past time.

Where to Ride:
• Off-road vehicles can only be legally driven in Durham Region on two occasions:
1. On private property with prior consent of the property owner,
2. On designated trails. There is only one legally designated trail in Durham Region – in the Ganaraska Forest in Clarington. To use the trail in the Ganaraska Forest, you must have a valid trail permit.
• You may ride along public roads between the shoulder and the fenceline (not on the shoulder) if it is allowed. Check your municipality’s bylaws. Riders can face fines up to $1,000.
• Police can charge riders driving on highways and rights-of-way under the Highway Traffic Act Section IV Reg. 316/03.
• No one can ride on certain high-speed roadways, including the 400 series highways and the travelled portion (from shoulder to shoulder) of a public road, except when crossing at a 90-degree angle.

Rules of the Road:
• Children less than 12 years of age are not permitted to drive an off-road vehicle except on land occupied by the vehicle owner.
• Use extra caution if you have a passenger on your vehicle. A passenger can throw the vehicle's balance off and cause injury.
• You must have a valid permit for your vehicle and a number plate displayed on the vehicle.
• You must have insurance on your vehicle. You must be able to show the insurance to a police officer if requested.
• If you lend your vehicle to another person, you are liable for any damages or injuries if an accident should occur,
• Under the Highway Traffic Act, you must wear an approved safety helmet on public property.
• The owner or occupier of the property you are using may stop any person riding an ORV and you must identify yourself with your name and address. A police officer may also stop any person riding an ORV.

• DRPS received more than 200 off-road vehicle related complaints in 2013, a 27 per cent increase from 2012.
• Between 2006 and 2013, there were 134 reports of stolen ORVs.
• The rate of off-road motor vehicle injuries for Durham Region residents is greater than the provincial average.

Safety Tips:
• Never operate an ORV when impaired by alcohol or drugs. The same charges for operating a car while under the influence apply to ORVs.
• Try to ride with someone and always tell a friend where you plan to ride and when you plan to return.
• Carry a cellphone in case you need assistance.
• Always wear the appropriate gear including a helmet, eye protection, long pants, gloves and boots
• Have a safety kit on board including a flare, flashlight, map and compass.

To report illegal ORV activity, please call our non-emergency number at 1-888-579-1520 unless there is an immediate danger to someone; call 911. For more information please visit the Ministry of Transportation website.

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