Illegal ATV driving, often without a helmet and in some cases involving minors, has driven Inuvik Mayor Clarence Wood to take action.
“I had noticed, straight from my office as a matter of fact, a large number that were riding ATVs without helmets … were obviously underage, and driving recklessly,” he said.
All-terrain vehicles, or ATVs, are three or four-wheeled vehicles that operate on low-pressure tires that can withstand rugged landscapes.
On Wednesday, the Town of Inuvik issued a public notice regarding the illegal operation of ATVs around the municipality.
“A large number of ATVs are currently being operated on town streets without licence plates, insurance and without helmets. In some cases they are being operated by minors,” the notice read.
In a day, Wood said, he witnesses nearly 15 to 20 such incidents. Coupled with a high volume of complaints about speeding and ATVs on social media, that fuelled his interest in digging deeper.
Wood looked into vehicle registration data and says he found there were only three licensed ATVs in the town. He believes he has seen more than 50 in operation.
Illegal ATV driving has been an issue in Inuvik for many years, Wood said.
“I just got fed up with seeing it,” he told Cabin Radio, “and approached administration and the protective services to do something about that.
“It’s about time the town acted on it, before somebody gets killed.”
The public notice sets out a four-step solution: an awareness campaign, the “vigilance” of residents reporting illegal ATV activity, safer-riding resources like safety courses, and more enforcement.
“Local authorities will be increasing patrols and monitoring of ATV activities to enforce existing regulations. Those found operating ATVs unlawfully will face penalties up to and including impounding the ATV,” the notice states.
The consequences, Wood said, vary depending on the situation: a person could receive a simple warning, be fined, or have their ATV confiscated. The same penalties apply for minors, he said, except their parents pay the fine.
In the case of an accident, Wood wants to warn community members that the consequences look different. He said an uninsured driver would be held liable for any damages and, if the driver is a minor, their parents could lose their home.
Wood said the town’s awareness campaign will involve going to schools and educating students about the dangers of underage driving and the consequences. He said that campaign begins “right away.”
“We’re also looking at something to reward the safe drivers,” the mayor said.
“I haven’t gotten into the details yet. But we have got to recognize people that are actually following the law and safe practices.”