Off-highway Vehicle Safety

​​​​​​​​​​​​​​To stay safe when operating an off-highway vehicle (OHV), it is important to:

  • wear a helmet, even off trail. This is also mandatory for passengers. For helmets without a visor, it is mandatory to wear protective glasses (except for the passenger of a sleigh or trailer with a closed cabin);
  • keep the vehicle’s white headlights and red tail light on;
  • observe speed limits;
  • keep a safe distance between your vehicle and the vehicle in front of you;
  • keep in mind that it is prohibited to drive under the influence of alcohol or drugs;
  • know that it is prohibited to hang on, stand on or get on a moving snowmobile or ATV;
  • Check the condition of trails (all-terrain vehicle or snowmobile ) before you go, in particular, ice conditions of water bodies on your route, and avoid water bodies where there are no markers;
  • cross public roads only at the locations identified by signs. Drivers must hold a valid driver’s licence to drive on public roads;
  • observe signage. For more information about signs used on OHV trails, you can refer to our webpage on off-road vehicle signage [in French only].

In addition to this advice, reading the pamphlet Totally safe outings [in French only] is a good way to review the rules and obligations that apply to OHV users. The pamphlet was updated after the Act respecting off-highway vehicles was brought into force on December 30, 2020.

“You feel alive on an OHV. Don’t let it kill you.”

A few years ago, the ministère des Transports launched an awareness campaign on safe OHV operation. In 2021, the Ministère sends a strong message to users by reminding them of the potential risks of this activity.

Operating an OHV is the leading cause of death associated with sports and recreational activities in Québec. The campaign’s message was chosen to reflect these statistics: “Speed, alcohol, drugs: never on an OHV.

The campaign aims to remind OHV users that, as free as someone can feel doing this activity, being reckless can have tragic consequences.

Refer to the press release​ for more information (available in French only).

Safety measures in remote locations

OHV trails are located outside urban centres, where it is difficult or impossible to connect to mobile networks.

Some basic precautionary measures can make all the difference for safety in remote locations, for example, by:

  • having tracking devices such as a global positioning system (GPS) or radio beacons;
  • informing the people responsible for the territory or a relative of your exact destination and the date you expect to be back, and give them the instruction to contact emergency services (911) in the event you are missing;
  • making sure you carry the equipment to provide first aid to an injured person (first aid kit) and have a way of communicating with emergency services (two-way radio, satellite phone, etc.);
  • keeping in mind that in case of an accident, the more remote your location is, the greater the impact it has on rescue and evacuation time, and the time needed to reach an hospital.

The ministère de la Sécurité publique, in cooperation with its partners, launched an awareness campaign under the theme “In the wild, your safety is your responsibility”. For more information on this campaign, refer to the page about emergency services in isolated areas​ [page in French only, with downloadable content in English] of the ministère de la Sécurité publique’s website.

Survival kit

Plan ahead and keep a basic survival kit with you when going on a trip. The kit can include:

  • a basic tool kit and a spare key
  • spark plugs, a drive belt, and antifreeze
  • first aid manual and kit
  • a sharpened pocketknife, a saw, or an axe
  • a nylon rope for towing (about 10 metres)
  • a geographic map and a GPS
  • waterproof matches, a flashlight and a whistle
  • a lightweight, aluminized blanket

Documentation

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