Changes to Ontario’s Off-Road Vehicles Legislation/Regulations
Off-road vehicles (ORVs) now have more access to the shoulder and paved portions of some Ontario highways. These new regulations, effective July 31, 2003, apply exclusively to one category of ORV. This is defined as an off-road vehicle that:
- has four wheels, the tires of which are all in contact with the ground;
- has steering handlebars;
- has a seat that is designed to be straddled by the driver;
- is designed to carry a driver only and no passengers; and
- meets requirements of federal Motor Vehicle Safety Act (MVSA) and American National Standards Institute (ANSI standard).
New regulations do not apply to other types of off-road vehicles such as mini-bikes, dirt bikes and moto-cross bikes.
Municipal Authority Regarding Off-Road Vehicles
Municipalities have the authority to determine whether or not off-road vehicles (ORVs) should be allowed access to roads under their authority. Municipalities must put a by-law in place for ORVs to be allowed access to their roads. Municipalities can determine which roads, where on the road, time of day, and season that ORVs are allowed access. They can also set speed limits that are lower than those set out in the regulation. If a by-law does not exist, ORVs are not allowed access to that municipality’s roads.
More information specific to municipal authority is available at www.e-laws.gov.on.ca , Statutes and Associated Regulations, Highway Traffic Act, Section 191.8.
Where Off-Road Vehicles Can/Cannot Travel
- Provincial regulations apply to provincial highways only
- Prohibited from 400 series highways, Queen Elizabeth Way and most sections of the Trans-Canada Highway.
- Generally, vehicles will be allowed access to highways 500 to 899, 7000 series highways and highways with low traffic volumes.
- Specific provincial highways where ORVs can/cannot travel are defined in the schedules of Regulation 316/03 of the Highway Traffic Act.
- Provisions allowing ORVs on roads in far Northern Ontario also apply.
- ORVs can operate on shoulder; move to travelled portion of highway if shoulder is impassable/unsafe
- Not allowed on rights-of-way (e.g., medians) between opposing lanes of traffic.
- Cannot operate in a construction zone, on a closed highway, or within a provincial park unless allowed by the park.
- Municipalities may pass by-laws to decide if, where and when off-road vehicles can be used on local roads.
Speed limit lower than posted limits:
– 20 km/h – highways where speed limit is 50 km/h or less;
– 50 km/h – highways where speed limit is over 50 km/h.
Driver’s Licence and Registration Requirements
- Riders must wear a motorcycle helmet, have either a valid G2/G driver’s licence or an M2/M motorcycle licence, registration and insurance.
- ORVs must be registered and have a valid permit except in exempt areas (e.g., far Northern Ontario).
- Previous exemptions for farmers, trappers and public utility workers remain in place.
Rules of the Road
- ORV operators must observe a speed limit lower than posted limits.
- Passengers are not allowed.
- May tow trailers.
- Driver’s view in all directions must not be obstructed.It is against the law to drive an off-road vehicle when impaired by alcohol or drugs.
- Riders must operate their ORV in the same direction as traffic on the road/highway.
Vehicle Equipment Standards
- ORVs must have the specified equipment (e.g., head lights, tail lights, working brakes, reflectors, low-pressure bearing tires)
- Width and weight restrictions appropriate to type of vehicle.
- Measures for Environmental Protection
- No person shall operate an ORV in such a way as to disrupt or destroy the natural environment including fish habitats, property and flora or fauna.
© Queen’s Printer for Ontario, 2009