Off-road vehicle (ORV) describes a range of vehicle configurations including all-terrain vehicles (ATVs), designed for off-road use.
Regulatory amendments effective July 1, 2015 have expanded the definition of an ATV and defined a “multi-purpose off-road vehicle”. Some of these provisions affect farm ATV/ORV use.
An ATV is now defined as a vehicle that;
- has 4 wheels, the tires are in direct contact with the ground,
- is steered by handlebars,
- has a seat designed to be straddled by the driver, and
- is designed to carry the driver only, or the driver and one passenger.
A “multi-purpose off-road vehicle” is defined as a vehicle that has;
- 4 or more wheels, the tires are in direct contact with the ground,
- a steering wheel,
- seats not designed to be straddled, and
- a minimum cargo capacity of 159 kg. (350 lbs.)
The John Deere GATOR, Kawasaki Mule and Kubota RTV are examples of a multi-purpose off-road vehicle (ORV). Farm tractors and self-propelled implements of husbandry (e.g. combines, sprayers) are not off-road vehicles. A 2014 Ontario Court of Appeal decision reaffirmed that ATVs are not self-propelled implements of husbandry, even when used by a farmer for agricultural purposes.
ATV/ORV use is governed by the Off-Road Vehicles Act (ORVA) and section 191.8 of the Highway Traffic Act (HTA). In general, ATVs and ORVs cannot be driven on a public road. The two key exceptions are found in section 2 of the ORVA, namely;
- farmers driving an off-road vehicle on the traveled portion of most roads for “agricultural purposes”, and
- licensed trappers driving an off-road vehicle on the traveled portion of most roads for “trapping purposes”.
Section 191.8 of the HTA and Regulation 316/03 address recreational ATV/ORV use on the shoulder of specified provincial highways. Municipalities can allow similar use on their roads by by-law. No municipal by-law means no recreational on-road use.
Despite section 191.8, farmers can drive an ATV/ORV on the travelled portion of most provincial highways and municipal roads, for “agricultural purposes”, provided all the requirements noted below are followed, even if the highway is not on the provincial list or included under a municipal by-law.
- the ATV/ORV is insured under an auto policy (see note below); the driver must carry proof of insurance [ORVA, section 15],
- the driver is licensed (minimum G2/M2); the driver must carry their Driver’s License [ORVA, section 2],
- the ATV/ORV is registered, i.e. it has an ORV plate [ORVA, section 3],
- the driver and any passengers must wear an approved helmet [ORVA, section 19 and O.Reg 316/03, section 19],
- a Slow-Moving Vehicle (SMV) sign must be on the rear of the vehicle, or on the rear of any towed implement or trailer [ORVA, section 2], and
- for vehicles equipped with seatbelts, the driver and passengers must wear them [O.Reg 316/03, sections 19.1, 19.2 and 19.3].
The seatbelt requirements are new and do apply to farmers (and farm employees) when the ORV is equipped with seatbelts.
NOTE: Insuring your ORV/ATV under an auto policy, as required by law, provides automatic accident benefits.
Farmers with seasonal or full-time employees, who operate an ATV/ORV while fulfilling their farm duties, need to ensure their employees are in full compliance with all the provisions noted above.
Highway Traffic Act: http://www.ontario.ca/laws/statute/90h08
Regulation 316/03: http://www.ontario.ca/laws/regulation/030316
Off-Road Vehicles Act: http://www.ontario.ca/laws/statute/90o04
Regulation 863: http://www.ontario.ca/laws/regulation/900863
For further information, contact your local OFA Member Service Representative or OFA’s Guelph office.