Keep it off-road—and off the tracks

There is no question riding an ATV is exhilarating. Zooming along muddy paths, up and down hills, and around corners is a fun way to explore Canada’s great outdoors on four wheels. But it can also be dangerous if you don’t follow the rules. In August 2011, two men in their early 20s were killed when the ATV they were riding struck the side of a moving CN train in Drummond, New Brunswick. The men were driving on a public road when their ATV hit the train. Wayne Daub, of the All Terrain/Quad Council of Canada, says that tragedies like the one in Drummond are completely preventable. He also says almost every incident between an ATV and a train is the result of the same thing: trespassing. “There are still incidents that I hear of in small communities, especially ones that have railway tracks running through them,” he says. “They use the tracks as their route to get to the trail system. But we continue to highly discourage that. Trespassing on railway property is always illegal, and should never, ever be considered.” Daub says trespassing on tracks and railway property isn’t as common these days because many rider federations across the country have built alternative routes to keep riders safe and away from train tracks. In fact, in 2009, the federal government spent $25 million to build 250,000 km of trails across Canada. As a result, Daub says there are few trails that actually come close enough to railways tracks to cause a problem. But it can be an be an issue on private land where railway tracks run through properties, particularly in rural areas. “You see farmers putting gravel down so they can get close enough to the bank to go up and over the tracks,” he says. “It’s just not a good thing.” Whether ATV riders are driving on farmland or trails, Daub has the same message for them: “Stay as far away from railway tracks as possible with any off-road vehicle,” he warns. “If you come across tracks, find another way around them.” It is a simple message that could save a life.