ATVs a risk on roads: Re­port

Northumberland Today - - NEWS - VA­LERIE MACDON­ALD

HAMIL­TON TOWN­SHIP — Both Hamil­ton Town­ship’s in­sur­ance com­pany and a pri­vate town­ship res­i­dent have laid out the risks if the town­ship agrees with a re­quest from the Northum­ber­land Dis­trict ATV Riders club to per­mit ATV rid­ing on town­ship road­ways.

It would re­quire a spe­cial by­law to grant that per­mis­sion – but there are ram­i­fi­ca­tions, coun­cil­lors were told.

It could cost mil­lions of dol­lars if the driver of an ATV is in an ac­ci­dent on a pub­lic road and doesn’t have suf­fi­cient cov­er­age, and the town­ship is taken to court and found li­able, rep­re­sen­ta­tives of Jones Des­lau­ri­ers In­sur­ance Man­age­ment Inc., Meghan Cal­laghan and An­drea Bar­tel, told coun­cil­lors at Tues­day’s com­mit­tee of the whole meet­ing.

How­ever, a lot of municipalities (in­clud­ing oth­ers here in Northum­ber­land County) have passed such by­laws and they take steps to man­age the risk in­clud­ing main­tain­ing and in­spect­ing road­ways deemed safe for such use, plus keep­ing a log about the reg­u­lar in­spec­tions that would be re­quired, as well as in­stalling proper sig­nage that could in­clude lower speeds on des­ig­nated roads, and/or signs ad­vis­ing driv­ers to share the roads with ATVs, Bar­tel said.

“If some­thing hap­pens then the town­ship has done its due dili­gence,” she added.

This does not stop a law­suit but pro­vides a de­fence, and even if the town­ship is found only one per cent li­able, it can be asked to make up the bal­ance of the court award not cov­ered by the rider’s in­sur­ance, coun­cil­lors were told.

“I be­lieve ATVs are a hot topic at coun­cil,” Cal­laghan said at the con­clu­sion of the pre­sen­ta­tion.

There has been a re­quest but no dis­cus­sion by coun­cil yet, re­sponded Mayor Mark Lovshin. There have been lots of tele­phone calls, e-mails and cor­re­spon­dence from those both for and against ATVs be­ing per­mit­ted on town­ship roads, he con­tin­ued.

A staff re­ported with op­tions is to come to coun­cil’s meet­ing on Sept 17 for a coun­cil de­ci­sion, the mayor added.

A Hamil­ton Town­ship res­i­dent who said she rep­re­sented area neigh­bour­hoods, laid out what she deemed the anti-safety side of the ar­gu­ment op­pos­ing ATVs on pub­lic road­ways.

A key part of her pre­sen­ta­tion in­cluded warn­ings from the man­u­fac­tur­ers of ATVs them­selves pro­vid­ing such no­tices in their man­u­als which in­struct users never to op­er­ate ATVs on pub­lic roads or paved sur­faces.

She quote from a Yamaha owner’s man­ual which states: “This ATV is de­signed and man­u­fac­tured for off road use only. It is il­le­gal and un­safe to op­er­ate this ATV on any pub­lic street, road or high­way.”

McFar­lane also quoted statis­tics from the Hal­ibur­ton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge Dis­trict Health Unit that re­vealed be­tween 2014 and 2016 there were 275 ATV in­ci­dents in Northum­ber­land County and 29 in Hamil­ton Town­ship, with 22 ac­ci­dents in­volv­ing ATVs on county road­ways. And she cited a po­si­tion pa­per from the On­tario Med­i­cal As­so­ci­a­tion that notes the con­cern physi­cians have about ATV ac­ci­dents in­volv­ing “younger pa­tients” and one from the In­sur­ance Institute for High­way Safety that states that two-thirds of ATV crashes oc­cur on pub­lic or pri­vate roads in the U.S. where be­tween 2007 and 2011 there were 1,700 ATV riders killed on pub­lic road­ways.

“Dis­miss” the Northum­ber­land Dis­trict ATV Riders Club’s re­quest to pass a by­law per­mit­ting ATVs on town­ship road­ways, McFar­lane urged coun­cil­lors.

Which ar­gu­ment wins out will be de­ter­mined at next week’s coun­cil ses­sion, if Mayor Lovshin’s timetable is ac­cu­rate.

VA­LERIE MACDON­ALD/NORTHUM­BER­LAND TO­DAY

Faye Mac­Far­lane of Hamil­ton Town­ship pro­vided a de­tailed pre­sen­ta­tion Tues­day af­ter­noon to Hamil­ton Town­ship coun­cil­lors about why they should dis­miss a re­quest from the Northum­ber­land Dis­trict ATV Riders club to al­low ATV rid­ing on town­ship road­ways.

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