News release

Off-highway Vehicle Act Changes Proposed

The government has introduced legislation to further restrict the use of off-highway vehicles and help safeguard Nova Scotians.

The restrictions are consistent with the recommendations of the Voluntary Planning Task Force on Off-highway Vehicles in that they allow 14- and 15-year-olds to operate an off-highway vehicle only if:

  • they are directly supervised by (in the company of, and within the sight of) a parent or guardian at all times while operating the vehicle;
  • they and their parent or guardian have successfully completed off-highway vehicle safety training ordered by the regulations.

With regard to off-highway vehicle operators under the age of 14, the government is accepting the recommendation of the task force, with a minor adjustment that allows operators under age 14 to use the vehicles on private land. All of the other restrictions by the task force on these users have been accepted.

"We recognize, understand and share the concerns raised by many doctors," said Natural Resources Minister Richard Hurlburt. "At the same time, we believe that proper training, equipment and supervision are the keys to the responsible operation of off-highway vehicles."

Children under 14 will only be allowed to operate the vehicles on private land or participate in closed-course activities. They must be directly supervised and within the sight of a parent or guardian. The parent or guardian and the under-14 operator must have successfully completed regulated off-highway vehicle safety training. The off-highway vehicle being used by any operator under age 14 cannot have an engine size larger than 100 cubic centimetres or whatever is recommended by the manufacturer for the operator's age and weight.

Anyone operating an off-highway vehicle on private property other than their own must produce written permission.

"We believe a ban on operators under age 14 is unrealistic, unenforceable and counterproductive," said the minister. "Such a prohibition may look good on paper, but it will not be reflected in the reality of people's behaviour across the province."

The amnesty period has been reduced from one year to about six months, effective Oct. 12, 2005 to March 31, 2006. That means that after March 31, 2006, people will be charged for failing to register a vehicle and for failing to obtain a permit for operating an off-highway vehicle.

As outlined in government's Action Plan for Off-highway Vehicle use, released on Oct. 12, operator training is mandatory. Regulations are being prepared now to put the training program in place as soon as possible.

"The awful event of recent days involving the deaths of two young girls on an off-highway vehicle has impacted all of us," said the minister. "We are doing what we can do to help further reduce the chances of this kind of tragedy happening again."

If passed, the legislation will be implemented with other aspects of the government's Action Plan on Off-highway Vehicle Use.

FOR BROADCAST USE:

The government is strengthening its own plans for restricting off-highway vehicle use in the province.

Natural Resources Minister Richard Hurlburt today (November 1st) introduced legislation that will make it necessary for 14- and 15-year olds to be in the company of and within sight of a parent or guardian at all times while operating an off-highway vehicle.

The legislation is consistent with the recommendations of a voluntary task force, which reviewed the use of these vehicles in the province.

The government is also accepting the recommendation of the task force as it relates to children under 14, though it will make one minor adjustment, allowing the youngsters to operate off-highway vehicles on private land. All other restrictions suggested by the task force for operators under age 14 have been accepted.

The minister says that government believes a total ban on operators under age 14 is unrealistic, unenforceable and counterproductive.

All operators who want to use their off-highway vehicles on private land other than their own will now be required to have the written permission of the landowner.

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Media Contact:

Mary Anna Jollymore
Natural Resources 902-424-2354 E-mail: