An information meeting in Alberton Thursday night on the Off Highway Vehicle Act and how it applies to the operation of ATVs and dirt bikes drew a large crowd, including riders, parents, enforcement officers and land owners.
Eric McCarthy/Journal Pioneer
ALBERTON — Irresponsible ATV operators only make the fight to gain access to area trails more difficult, says the president of the P.E.I. ATV Federation.
Greg Myers told fellow operators during an all-terrain vehicle information meeting Thursday night in Alberton, that his organization continues to seek access to the Confederation Trail.
“We can’t get those rights to lands if people are acting irresponsibly,” he stressed.
Alberton town Councillor Natasha Dunn started getting calls from parents last month after posting information about ATV rules she heard from an RCMP officer attending the August council meeting. She decided to call an information meeting and have the ones who enforce the rules to explain them. About 90 people, mostly ATV operators and parents, attended.
There was no sign of any ATVs parked near the meeting hall.
Besides some of the obvious rules, like wearing helmets and not driving on public roads, attendees were advised that children under the age of 14 are not permitted to operate the machines and that anyone with less than two years of driving experience, and children between the ages of 14 and 16 must take an ATV safety course before they can operate the machines.
Even then, those operators can only operate the machine in close supervision of an adult. RCMP Cpl. Scott Lundrigan interpreted that to mean the youth must remain visible to the supervising adult.
“We want safe operation of ATVs,” Myers said. “Young people driving is unacceptable. Impaired driving is unacceptable in our eyes. We want safe operation, both for the rider and the public and the constables.”
He promised his federation would help authorities prosecute offenders when possible.
“We have no problems with bringing them to task, because every time an ATV’er does something incorrectly, inappropriately in the eyes of the law, it paints every ATV’er in this province with the same paint brush.”
Myers said federation directors are expected to lead by example in the way they operate their machines and in having them registered and insured.
Cpl. Lundrigan of West Prince RCMP went through the rules that apply to operation of ATVs and dirt bikes and explained they are for the safety of the operators and the public. He stressed the Island roadways are not the place for them, nor are they permitted on the Confederation Trail.
Machines can cross roadways at 90-degree angles, and they can travel in the ditches, but even then rules requiring registration and insurance apply, he advised.
Machines can travel in the ditches in either direction during the day but at nighttime they must travel in the direction of highway vehicles in the nearest lane.
Myers commended Dunn for organizing the meeting and getting the information out and people in the audience suggested similar meetings should be arranged across the Island.
Although license plates and registration can help identify machines and operators, Graham Minor, Registrar of Motor Vehicles for P.E.I., advised an unregistered ATV is a more popular target for thieves than one that is registered and can more easily be identified.
Dealers who insist that machines be registered and a plate affixed before the machine leaves their premises were applauded by those in attendance.
Conservation officer Wayde MacKinnon advised that, with 90 per cent of the land on P.E.I. privately owned, there is not a lot of places where the machines can legally be operated.
He said his officers help enforce the rules and so far this year there have been 25 charges and seizures in the western end of the province. Besides the roads and the Confederation trail, the machines are not permitted on private property without permission. They cannot be operated on sand dunes or in marshes and can only be used on the beach for fishing-related activities.
There is a $300 fine for operating the machines on the trail, $3,000 for crossing a stream or wetland with one.
Parents were also advised they can be held liable if their under-aged child is found operating a machine and for any damage caused through the operation of the machines.