Quebec transport minister says 'the party is over' for snowmobilers and ATV riders

American tourists stop in front of the parish church Friday, March 1, 2013, as a major snowmobile trail passes through La Motte, Que. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson

"The party is over" for drivers in snowmobiles and ATVs, Quebec Transport Minister Francois Bonnardel said on Friday, the day after his bill was tabled to regulate the driving of off-road vehicles.

Training for tourists who rent the machines and for their guides will also become mandatory - following last winter's "horrible tragedy," where five French tourists died in the cold waters of Lac Saint-Jean.

Bonnardel said the reforms proposed by Bill 71 should have been made a long time ago because the safety record is "disastrous."

��J’ai déposé ce matin à #AssNat le PL71 qui vise à moderniser la pratique du véhicule hors route au Québec. Nous voulons garantir un environnement plus sécuritaire pour les adeptes de VHR, mais aussi pour tous les usagers qui empruntent les sentiers.


— François Bonnardel (@fbonnardelCAQ) October 22, 2020

In 10 years, ATVs and snowmobiles have caused no fewer than 581 deaths and 6,237 hospitalizations. In 60 per cent of fatal crashes, the driver had consumed alcohol.

If Bill 71 is passed, impaired driving will become prohibited. The maximum speed imposed on snowmobilers will be 70 km/h, while it will be 50 km/h for quad drivers.

Also, if someone is riding less than 100 metres from a home, a health establishment, or an area reserved for the practice of cultural, educational, recreational or sports activities, riders will have to slow down to 50 km/h.

"For those who were speeding and consuming alcohol on the trails, well, the party is over today," said the minister.

-- this report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 23, 2020. 


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