FREDERICTON (CNB) - A new regulation prescribing age-appropriate recreational off-road vehicles for those under the age of 16, and establishing a class of closed course for recreational use for those under 14 will come into effect on May 1.

"Protecting the safety and security of our children is our first priority," said Public Safety Minister and Solicitor General John W. Foran. "Changes to the act will enable us to continue improving off-road vehicle safety in the province, and allow off-road vehicle enthusiasts to be safe while they enjoy this growing sport."

The new regulation sets the specifications for recreational off-road vehicles (all-terrain vehicles, motorized snow vehicles, and recreational-use dirt bikes) that may be driven by:

  • a person who is 14 or 15 years old;
  • a person who is 12 or 13 years old; and
  • a person who is between six and 11 years old.

The regulation provides for the creation and accreditation of recreational-use closed courses for persons under the age of 14 to provide off-road vehicle users with a well-designed and controlled environment to participate safely in the sport. It also provides for the creation and accreditation of competition-use closed courses to allow the continuation of competitive motor sport in the province.

The regulation came about after lengthy consultation with several stakeholders, including industry associations and manufacturers. It also establishes specifications for the 2010 model year and later all-terrain vehicles (ATVs) that may be driven by individuals who are six years of age or older, and under the age of 16, and ensures that these vehicles have speed limiters set based on various categories.

When the new regulation takes effect, persons under the age of 16 must be supervised and accompanied by a person 19 years of age or older. The supervising adult must have successfully completed an approved safety training course if supervising the operation of an ATV or snowmobile by a person under the age of 16.

"I thank our stakeholders, including the New Brunswick Federation of Snowmobile Clubs and the New Brunswick ATV Federation, for their assistance and consultation throughout this process," Foran said. "Building a safer New Brunswick will help us to reach our goal of self-sufficiency by 2026."

EDITOR'S NOTE: Background information follows.

Backgrounder - New regulation for Off-Road Vehicle Act

Following are highlights from the new regulation under the Off-Road Vehicle Act.

Specifications for off-road vehicles that may be driven by:

  • Persons 14 - 15 years of age:
  • ATVs - engine size not to exceed 90 cc (for 2009 and earlier model years);
  • motorized snow vehicles - engine size not to exceed 340 cc; and

recreational-use dirt-bikes - engine size not to exceed 230 cc and the operator must be able to touch the balls of both feet on the ground when straddling the bike's seat.

Persons 12 - 13 years of age:

  • ATVs - engine size not to exceed 90 cc (for 2009 and earlier model years);
  • motorized snow vehicles - engine size not to exceed 340 cc; and
  • recreational-use dirt-bikes - engine size not to exceed 150 cc and the operator must be able to touch the balls of both feet on the ground when straddling the bike's seat.

Persons six to 11 years of age:

  • ATVs - engine size not to exceed 70 cc (for 2009 and earlier model years);
  • motorized snow vehicles - engine size not to exceed 120 cc; and
  • recreational-use dirt-bikes - engine size not to exceed 120 cc and the operator must be able to touch the balls of both feet on the ground when straddling the bike's seat.

Typical adult-size off-road vehicles, such as the following, cannot be driven by people under the age of 16:

  • ATVs - 850 cc / 360+ kg;
  • snowmobiles - 1,200 cc / 250+ kg; and
  • dirt bikes - 450 cc / 130+ kg.

In addition, the regulation will ensure that the original specifications are maintained for all 2010 model year and later ATVs that are in compliance with the AMSI / SVIA 1-2007 standard for vehicles that may be driven by a person who is age six or older, and under the age of 16, and will ensure that these vehicles have speed limiters set at the following levels:

  • Category Y-6+ ATV: maximum speed of 16 km/h;
  • Category Y-10+ ATV: maximum speed of 24 km/h;
  • Category Y-12+ ATV: maximum speed of 24 km/h; and
  • Category T (transition model): maximum speed of 32 km/h.

Establishment of a class of closed courses used exclusively for recreation.

The regulation establishes a class of closed courses used exclusively for recreation, and allows persons under the age of 14 to operate age-appropriate recreational-use off-road vehicles on the course. All closed courses must be run by organizations accredited by the registrar of motor vehicles, subject to certain standards and parameters:

Accreditation

  • Organizations seeking accreditation for a closed course used exclusively for recreation will be required to submit an application form, along with any other information required, to the registrar of motor vehicles.
  • Accreditation is only required if the closed course will be open to off-road vehicle riders aged 6 to 13.
  • When a closed course reverts back to its normal use, the closed-course standards do not apply.
  • Accredited organizations must also carry liability insurance.

Public roads

  • Closed courses must not cross or intersect with public roads.

Course terrain, obstacles and hazards

  • Keeping in mind that children six to 13 years of age will be operating smaller, age-appropriate vehicles on closed courses, it is important that the trails be suitable for these types of machines and for the rider's level of ability. Therefore, the travelled portion of trails that have the following characteristics will not be considered for accreditation:
  • water (standing or running) over 15 cm deep;
  • unusually steep terrain over a 25 per cent grade; and
  • large amounts of debris on the trail, such as large logs, fallen trees, or low-hanging branches.
  • Signage

All posted signage must be approved by the registrar of motor vehicles.

Signage indicating that a closed course is in operation must be displayed.

When an existing trail or portion thereof is being used as a closed course, approved signage to indicate all major entry and exit points along the closed course, as well as indicating the point where the closed course starts and ends, must be displayed .

Signage indicating the point at which a trail intersects with another trail, and warning operators that vehicles could be entering from their left, right or front, must be displayed.

Signage indicating that a maximum speed of 32 kilometres per hour is in effect on a closed course must be displayed.

Speed limits

  • The maximum speed limit on a closed course is not to exceed 32 kilometres per hour.

Establishment of a class of closed courses used exclusively for competition.

The regulation also establishes a class of closed courses used exclusively for competition. Organizations will be required to submit an application, along with any other information deemed necessary, to the registrar of motor vehicles for consideration and proof that the course(s) is sanctioned by the Canadian Motorsport Racing Club.

A full list of provisions under the new regulation may be found online.