EDITORIAL: Safety starts with practise

NANAIMO: BAanning drivers from ATVs today won’t help them tomorrow.

There comes a time when good, old-fashioned common sense has to be the measuring stick in keeping us safe.

The Canadian Paediatric Society’s call on the provinces and territories to legislate helmet use and training courses for young operators of all-terrain vehicles makes good sense. Safety should always be foremost in everyone’s mind when on any type of vehicle – motoized or human-powered.

But calling for a national ban on anyone under 16-years-old from driving an ATV is heavy-handed.

It screams of bubble-wrap legislation – going to an extreme to protect us all from activities that have the potential to cause harm.

That harm, on occasion, will have serious or fatal results. But you cannot cocoon the world to keep it safe.

Richard Stanwick, society president and chief medical officer for the Vancouver Island Health Authority, said riding an ATV is a challenging undertaking even for an adult.

He said people are often injured getting on a vehicle for the first time and underestimating the skill required to operate it.

But a ban is not the answer. Does turning 16 suddenly make a young person capable of riding with skill? No,  that only comes with experience.

We have to trust young people learning to ride are doing so under the guidance of adults who demand they wear a helmet and other protective gear, that they are on a size-appropriate vehicle and ride a course or trail that complements their ability.

Introducing people to ATVs at an early age, and allowing them to learn properly, can reduce accidents.

It won’t prevent them all, but it’s better than the free-for-all that could occur when they turn of age and take the controls.

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