There should be a regulation to regulate regulations

Alex Harrold
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Would you like to know what was once an extremely favourable attraction to the idea of living here? It was the fact that the province was not overly regulated. You had the freedom to do many things that did not particularly interfere with anybody else, something that is largely lost on just about all of the rest of North America.

In many ways, all of this has changed. In its haste to be just like everybody else, the province has brought in numerous regulations, both necessary and unnecessary. There's one being floated around now that, if forced upon us, is a good example of a regulation that someone deems necessary because of the absolute stupidity of someone else. Every time someone floats an idea for a new regulation, there is a responsibility to determine why the need for the regulation arises. It requires an assessment of how or in what way something is being used that makes it necessary to legislate behaviour. This is the precise problem with a proposed helmet law for UTV/SIDE-BY-SIDE use.

It has come to the attention of government that people who have side by sides are able to operate these vehicles without a helmet, something considered an issue that has slipped through the cracks. That's because the wearing of helmets is required for single passenger quads. The argument goes that because the vehicles are similar and there have been accidents with the side by sides resulting in injuries similar to the smaller quads justifies including side-by-sides as being regulated for helmet use.

There is a counterargument that the two vehicles are sufficiently different such that helmets should not be legislated for side-by-sides. The larger side by sides generally have a roll bar, conventional seating, seat belts and in some cases doors or side strap restraints that the smaller quads lack. If someone decides not to wear their seat belt, or place three people in the cab when there are only seats for two, engage in high-speed operation or use alcohol when operating the vehicle, subsequently crashes and turns themselves into a partial vegetable, they probably should be wearing a helmet. And body armour.

In addition to the vehicles being different in their configuration, there is the way people use the machines. I have a side-by-side. As a disabled person, I can only ride in the side-by-side. I own it so that I can access the woods roads or trails and other places in the back country that, as a disabled person, I would never be able to access. I have no interest in putting three people in the cab, testing the limits of its four-wheel-drive capability by driving on a 45-degree slant through a mud hole at the edge of a cliff at 60 km/h, or seeing if I can navigate it through a bog while balancing a beer on my knee.

The way that I intend to use my side-by-side is in no way similar to the way someone else might want to use theirs. If they want to race, do daring things, get out in the back country and drive like a maniac because they're able to, that's entirely up to them. Forget the helmet. Tethering them to the back deck with an attendant until their mind clears would be a better idea. If I am forced to wear a helmet, it is going to interfere with the whole reason that I'm out on the side-by-side to begin with. It is very difficult to hunt, view nature and take in the sights, or just enjoy being out on the machine and in the woods if you're forced to wear a helmet.

People drive cars and they are not required to wear a helmet. On the other hand if you decide to use that car in formal racing, you are required not only to wear a helmet but also fire resistant clothing. The regulations match the behaviour. Before government considers requiring a helmet for a side-by-side, they need to understand that it's the way the machines are used that governs the need for such things.

I shouldn't have to wear a helmet because someone else engages in daring-do on a side-by-side. That is, until there are so many nuts out there that I need a helmet as protection from them.


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