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Home > Off-Highway Vehicles > Safety > Off-Highway Vehicles

Quad - Sustainable developpement in the practice of ATV driving

A work tool for some, a recreational vehicle for others, ATVs (also called quads) have become tremendously popular over the last ten years. Because they can be used year-round, and because Québec has over 19,000 km of trails, it is easy to understand why the number of quad riders is growing. One need look no further than the 353,838 vehicles of this type licensed in Québec in 2009—an increase of 238% over 1995—for a clear indicator of outdoor enthusiasts’ keen interest in quadding.

However, efforts must be made to prevent the success of these vehicles from being tarnished by accidents that result in serious or fatal injury. In 2008, 28 people lost their lives due to quad accidents, and most of these accidents could have been prevented.

In December 1996, after consulting with various stakeholders, Ministère des Transports (MTQ) asked the National Assembly to adopt the Act respecting off-highway vehicles.

This legislation brought in rules governing the use of ATVs in order to ensure user safety and counter the rise in ATV-related injuries and deaths that was casting a shadow over the extraordinary growth in the popularity of this type of vehicle.

In 2006, the Act was amended to tighten the rules and improve coexistence between trail users and neighboring residents.

It is worth noting that almost all ATV accidents occur off-trail, and could be prevented by respecting the Act and the safety rules.

In 2009, the Act respecting off-highway vehicles was amended again, notably to allow the transport of a passenger on four-wheeled ATVs originally designed for one person but modified by the addition of a passenger seat, and to allow MTQ to authorize the carrying out of pilot projects aimed at testing the use of a vehicle or of equipment related to its operation or safety.

Main Provisions of the Act
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Safety Helmet

Wearing a safety helmet is compulsory, not only on trails, but everywhere and in all circumstances. The helmet must comply with the applicable regulatory standards and must have a visor, failing which the quad rider must wear safety glasses. The rider must also wear gloves and appropriate footwear.

Minimum Age and Training

The Act sets 16 as the minimum age for operating this type of vehicle. In addition, riders aged 16 and 17 are required to take a training course and to hold a certificate of competence issued by Fédération québécoise des clubs quads. All new riders should also take a training course. To carry a passenger on an ATV modified by the addition of a passenger seat, the driver must be at least 18 years of age.

Speed Limit

Unless otherwise indicated, the speed limit for operating an ATV is 50 km/h. The speed limit is reduced to 30 km/h when close to a residence. In addition, while this type of vehicle makes it possible to reach areas that are not easily accessible by other means, there are limitations to what an ATV can do. Ignoring these limitations can be fatal.

Passengers

When carrying a passenger on an ATV, preference should be given to models designed for two people.

However, since June 2009, the Act respecting off-highway vehicles allows, under certain conditions, the carrying of passengers on four-wheeled ATVs originally designed for one person and modified by the addition of a passenger seat. The seat must be installed in accordance with the seat manufacturer’s instructions and recommendations.

This practice is restricted to club trails, public roads under the conditions stipulated in the Act, private roads and trails open to public traffic in order to reach a trail, and trails on roads located on state-owned land with the authorization of the Minister, or, when necessary, the distance required to reach a trail. It is forbidden to carry passengers when using a portion of trail with a steep uphill slope of 17% or more that is signposted accordingly.

Drivers of ATVs modified in this way must be at least 18 years old when carrying a passenger. Starting June 10, 2010, drivers must hold a certificate attesting that they have the required skills and knowledge to drive such a vehicle.

In addition, when carrying a passenger, drivers of ATVs modified by the addition of a passenger seat are forbidden from transporting a load greater than the maximum specified by the vehicle manufacturer.

Riding on Public Roads and Driver’s Licence

It is illegal to operate an ATV on a public road, except in the cases stipulated in the Act. This type of vehicle is not designed to be operated on pavement. In all cases, there must be a road sign indicating that ATV traffic is permitted. Permission can only be granted by the manager of the network (MTQ or the municipality). It is also important to note that a valid driver’s licence is required in order to use a public road under the conditions set out in the Act.

In addition, public roads can only be crossed at locations that are intended for this purpose and identified by traffic signs.

Riding Near Inhabited Areas

It is illegal to operate an ATV within 30 meters of a dwelling, a health establishment, or an area that is reserved for cultural, educational, or sports activities without having obtained the express permission of the property owner. There are some exceptions, and the allowable speed limit in these cases is 30 km/h, even if no sign is posted.

Insurance

All ATV owners must hold a minimum of $500,000 in third-party liability insurance. Pursuant to the Automobile Insurance Act, the Société de l’assurance automobile du Québec (SAAQ) does not compensate ATV riders for accidental injuries unless a moving automobile is involved. It is recommended that ATV owners take out a personal insurance policy that provides coverage for bodily injury and property damage.

Mandatory Equipment

The vehicle must be equipped with a white headlight, a red tail-light, and exhaust and braking systems. Models manufactured after January 1, 1998, must also be equipped with a red rear brake light, a rear-view mirror that is firmly attached to the left side of the vehicle, and a speedometer. Modifying or removing this equipment is strictly prohibited.

Safety
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Driving on Ice

If you must drive on a lake or river in winter, stick to marked areas that are patrolled by a club. Crossing a body of water in early or late winter is particularly risky, especially in unmarked areas. Obstacles that are hidden by snow, such as docks, can become death traps, especially at night.

Survival Kit

Be prepared, and carry a basic survival kit that includes the following items:

  • Basic toolkit and spare key
  • Spark plugs, drive belt, and antifreeze, as required
  • First-aid kit and manual
  • Sharp pocket knife, saw, or hatchet
  • Nylon rope that can be used for towing (approximately 10 meters long)
  • Trail map and compass
  • Waterproof matches, flashlight, and whistle
  • Light aluminum blanket

There is no guarantee that a cell phone will be reliable outside of urban areas or far from major highway corridors. Therefore, it is a good idea to carry a topographic map. It may also be useful to bring along a GPS receiver (satellite tracking system/global positioning system) to help you find your way in the woods.

Other Trail Users

Regardless of the season, it is important to pay special attention to the safety of other trail users, especially hikers, cross-country skiers, and snowshoers.

Trail Security Officers

To ensure your safety, trail security officers patrol trails to enforce compliance with the Act and its regulations. Both trail security officers and Fédération officers are volunteers recruited to ensure the safety of ATV users. They must meet specific selection criteria in accordance with the law.

When they recognize an offence, trail security officers and Fédération officers can fill out a general violation report, which results in the issue of a violation notice. The work of trail security officers requires know-how and dedication, and they deserve your respect.

Respecting the Environment and Property
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Respecting the Environment

Obviously, respecting the environment means respecting nature and wildlife, but it also means respecting the peace and quiet of neighboring residents. Staying on the trails is the best way to do your part.

Respecting Property Rights

ATV riders occasionally damage the fences that are installed by MTQ along road rights-of-way in order to travel off the trails that are set aside for them and operate illegally on public roads. Remember that fences and other installations are there for a reason, and are intended to ensure your safety and that of road users.

Wayleaves

Before riding an ATV on private property, you must obtain permission from the owner. Riding off-trail without permission is likely to disturb the property owners, which will reduce the chances that wayleaves will be granted. Riding on private property without permission from the owner or lessee is subject to a fine of $250 to $500.

In addition, MTQ encourages ATV riders to stay on the marked trails that are maintained by their federation. Club volunteers are responsible for obtaining wayleaves on the trails that are operated by the Fédération québécoise des clubs quads.

Fines
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The Act respecting off-highway vehicles provides for the following fines:

  • $100 for riding an ATV without a safety helmet
  • $500 for allowing a child under the age of 16 to operate an ATV
  • $100 for a rider 16 or 17 years of age who operates an ATV without holding a certificate of competence
  • $500 to $1,000 for an adult who permits or tolerates the operation of an ATV by a rider 16 or 17 years of age who does not hold a certificate of competence
  • $100 for operating an ATV on a public road, except as provided in the Act
  • $250 for operating an ATV on a public road under the conditions provided in the Act without holding a permit that authorizes the operator to drive a road vehicle on such a road pursuant to the Highway Safety Code
  • $250 for operating an ATV without holding at least $500,000 in public liability insurance
  • $100 for consuming alcoholic beverages while on an all-terrain vehicle or on a trailer or sled drawn by such a vehicle
  • $100 for transporting more passengers on an ATV than the number for which the vehicle was designed
  • Graduated fines for exceeding the speed limit

New infractions related to passenger transportation in the case of noncompliance with the conditions stipulates in the Act or Régulation

  • $100 For transporting a passenger on an ATV on a passenger seat that does not meet the requirements provided for in the Act
  • $100 For driving an ATV modified in compliance with the act, elsewhere than in designated areas, when a passenger is on board the vehicle
  • $100 For driving an ATV modified in accordance with the Act to transport a passenger, when the operator is under 18 years of age but at least 16 years of age.
  • $500 In the case of an adult, for having allowed or tolerated that a driver under age 18 drives an ATV modified in compliance with the Act, with a passenger on board the vehicle
  • $100 For driving an ATV modified in compliance with the Act on a part of a trail that has a steep uphill slope of 17% or more, with a passenger on board the vehicle
  • $100 For transporting a load greater than the maximum specified by the vehicle manufacturer when a passenger is on board an ATV modified in compliance with the Act

Starting June 10, 2010

  • $250 for transporting a passenger on an ATV modified in compliance with the Act, without holding a certificate attesting that the driver has the skills and knowledge to drive such a vehicle with a passenger on board.
Schedule of Fines for Speeding Violations
  Snowmobile All-terrain Vehicle
Maximum speed
(s. 27)
70 km/h
50 km/h
Excessive speed range and fine
Category 1
71 to 74 km/h
75 to 79 km/h
80 to 84 km/h
85 to 89 km/h
90 km/h
$25
$35
$45
$55
$65
51 to 54 km/h
55 to 59 km/h
60 to 64 km/h
56 to 69 km/h
70 km/h
$25
$35
$45
$55
$65
Excessive speed range and fine
Category 2
91 to 94 km/h
95 to 99 km/h
100 km/h
$85
$100
$115
71 to 74 km/h
75 to 79 km/h
80 km/h
$85
$100
$115
Excessive speed range and fine
Category 3
101 to 104 km/h
105 to 109 km/h
110 to 114 km/h
115 km/h
$145
$165
$185
$205
81 to 84 km/h
85 to 89 km/h
90 to 94 km/h
95 km/h
$145
$165
$185
$205
Excessive speed range and fine
Category 4
116 to 119 km/h
120 to 124 km/h
125 to 129 km/h
130 km/h
$250
$275
$300
$325
96 to 99 km/h
100 to 104 km/h
105 to 109 km/h
110 km/h
$250
$275
$300
$325
Excessive speed range and fine
Category 5
131 to 134 km/h
135 to 139 km/h
140 km/h +
$385
$415
$445
and up
111 to 114 km/h
115 to 119 km/h
120 km/h +
$385
$415
$445
and up

 
Fines for Other Infractions
Selling a non-conforming exhaust system
The fine for modifying an exhaust system in such a way as to cause it to be more polluting remains $100 to $200.
$250 to $500
 
 
Riding on private property
Short-term rental of an overpowered OHV
Failure to obey an order to stop

Financial Assistance Program for Quad Clubs
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Documentation
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Order of the Minister for Transport - Pilot project concerning side-by-side vehicles  Download AdobeTM Acrobat ReaderTM (111 KB)

Studies on how the presence of a second passenger impacts behavior (available in French only):

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