CORNER BROOK — Len LeRiche would like to see Safety Services Newfoundland and Labrador become the go to organization for safety training in the province.
LeRiche is the president and chief executive officer of the voluntary non-profit organization known for its motorcycle and driver education courses and for offering occupational health and safety training.
LeRiche said part of a new strategic plan for the organization is to expand into safety training courses for all types of recreational vehicles including ATVs, dirt bikes and snowmobiles.
In terms of ATV use, he thinks there is definitely a need for safety training.
"The challenge for us is how can we most efficiently deliver the program."
LeRiche said Safety Services will work with organizations like the Avalon Trailway Corporation, the Canada Safety Council, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary in developing a program.
He said the goal is not to duplicate anything that already exists, but instead offer a fresh program with certified instructors.
And it has to be something that targets both young children in schools and seasoned riders.
LeRiche recognizes it will be challenging to reach recreational riders who may not see the importance of safety training, unlike some industries that already offer programs for employees.
"Those who rely on it for work, they have a different view of it than the recreational user. They like to jump on their machine on a nice day and take off," said LeRiche.
"We know people are going to take risks. We do every day in our lives. I guess it comes down to what our tolerance is for that and what we perceive as being safe," he said.
"And sometimes we get complacent. You get comfortable in a certain environment with a certain piece of machinery and you don't spend enough time thinking about it or don't revisit it to a point where you know you may need to change habits or add new pieces of equipment like helmets."
One thing LeRiche would like to see changed is the fact that ATV riders don't need to have a licence.
"It's not necessarily to control the freedoms that people have with this type of equipment," he said. "It's to guarantee that a minimum standard will be met and that also applies to the equipment, the age and what your wear to offer some kind of protection."
Meanwhile, LeRiche didn't have any figures on ATV accidents in the province, but said Safety Services monitors situations that do occur.
"Each time we hear of an incident it reactivates our interest in it to a point where we realize that we have to do something because one of these incidents is one too many."
The provincial Motorized Snow Vehicles and All-Terrain Vehicles Act outlines the proper use of all-terrain vehicles (ATV ) in the province.
The regulations include:
— A person under the age of 16 years shall not operate an all-terrain vehicle in the province;
— An individual shall not operate or ride as a passenger on an ATV unless wearing an approved helmet;
— A peace officer may seize an ATV or issue a violation ticket to an individual if the ATV is operating outside of an approved area;
— A person shall not drive an ATV across a highway unless the vehicle is insured; and
— Penalties for operating an ATV outside of an approved area include a fine for the first offence of $500 or in default of payment imprisonment for a term not exceeding 30 days.
Source: Government of Newfoundland and Labrador