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Six safety tips for off-highway vehicle riders from the RCMP

With summer in full-swing, many residents are exploring the outdoors on off-highway vehicles like ATVs and dirt bikes

With summer in full-swing, many residents are exploring the outdoors on off-highway vehicles (OHVs) like ATVs and dirt bikes. In an effort to keep our community members safe, Nova Scotia RCMP is sharing some safety tips for outdoor enthusiasts. 

Start with safety training. Proper safety training will prepare you to confidently and safely enjoy your OHV. Get started by visiting the Government of Nova Scotia website for a list of off-road motorcycle safety coaches ( and ATV safety instructors (

Second, do not ride on roads or highways. Concerned residents have been reporting ATV and dirt bike riders travelling on roads and highways, riding on shoulders and along medians. This is illegal and dangerous for everyone sharing the roadway. 

Third, wear a helmet and make sure passengers do too. A helmet is your brain’s last line of defence against hard surfaces and can be the deciding factor in whether you suffer a serious brain injury.

Fourth, ride sober and at safe speeds. This is a given with any vehicle, but it is worth repeating as your full focus is needed to make sharp turns and deal with unexpected obstacles. 

Fifth, check that your OHV is registered and insured.

Sixth, make sure your kids are safe. The Nova Scotia Off-highway Vehicles Act has specific requirements for youth under 16. These include:

  • Youth must ride a vehicle appropriate for their age and size based on manufacturer’s recommendations.
  • Youth must complete safety training and ride within sight of a parent or guardian who has successfully completed off-highway vehicle safety training.
  • Kids six to 13 must ride on a closed course, which is an area of land being used for an organized off-highway vehicle event during which access to the area by motor vehicles is limited.
  • If young people are found to be operating off-highway vehicles out of compliance with the Off-highway Vehicles Act or the Motor Vehicles Act, parents/guardians are responsible and could face fines.

“Every year, Nova Scotia RCMP responds to serious and fatal OHV collisions,” says Cpl. Dal Hutchinson of the Nova Scotia RCMP. “We have seen first-hand the painful impact of these collisions on victims as well as their families, friends and community. We don’t want to see another community member become a victim and we ask you to help protect everyone by riding safely.”

Nova Scotia RCMP will continue to patrol roadways and trails to enforce safe off-highway vehicle use. Those who violate the Off-highway Vehicles Act could face a penalty of over $400 for a first offence and have their vehicle seized. Please help protect everyone by riding safely and reporting illegal OHV use to police. For more information on off-highway vehicle use, visit

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