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ATV-related deaths in Ontario more than twice as high from this time last year

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It has been a deadly start to the off-roading season in Ontario.

Ontario Provincial Police say so far this year, there have been nine fatalities related to all-terrain vehicle (ATV) accidents in the province.

"Compared to this time last year, that's more than double. There had been four across Ontario by this point in 2023,” said OPP spokesperson Bill Dickson in an interview.

"Here in eastern Ontario, we have seen two fatalities. So two people die as a result of injuries sustained when they were operating an ATV."

It’s a concerning trend for Shari Black, executive director of the Ontario Federation of ATV Clubs, who says it could be due, in part, to the growing interest in the activity.

"More people are buying the machines, more people are using them,” Black said in an interview.

“Maybe they bought them through Covid and some of the novelty has worn off, they’re really comfortable, but they’re not applying the practical, commonsense skills."

Police say impaired operation continues to be an issue, but the biggest factors that lead to serious injury and death are improper helmet and seatbelt use.

"I like to preach that these types of vehicles aren't safe,” said Sgt. Byron Newell with the OPP East Region's SAVE Team, which operates specifically on Ontario’s trails and waterways.

"They're always dangerous. So you need to learn how to drive them properly."

Newell says his teams stop every off-roading group they come across while patrolling trails. He says "a lot" of riders are not taking precautions by using helmets or seatbelts.

"I've been to many accidents where they've come off the ATV. They were wearing the helmet, but the helmet falls off and then it doesn't do them any good because they didn't have the chin strap on properly."

Black adds that many serious incidents occur when riders stray away from the groomed trails.

"Most serious injuries and accidents are happening on the roads, maybe involving another vehicle on the road or a tip over, or they're happening on private property."

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