Ontario’s Ministry of Transportation has announced that this winter Sikh motorcycle riders will be exempt from Ontario’s motorcycle helmet law.

British Columbia, Manitoba, and Alberta have already passed similar laws exempting turban-wearing Sikhs to ride motorcycles without helmets for religious reasons.

The law in Ontario in its current state, found at section 104 of the Highway Traffic Act, requires all persons to wear a helmet while riding or operating a motorcycle or motor assisted bicycle on a highway.

SAFETY CONCERNS FOR MOTORCYCLISTS

With the thrill and excitement of riding a motorcycle comes great risk to the rider’s safety. Motorcycle accidents are inherently more dangerous than motor vehicle accidents, and are more likely to be life threatening.

According to Transport Canada, in 2015 there were 200 motorcyclists killed in collisions (10% of all driver deaths) and 1,243 motorcyclists who sustained serious injuries (12.1% of all drivers who sustained serious injuries).

Motorcyclists are especially vulnerable road users. Motorcycles are less stable than four-wheeled vehicles and are more susceptible to lose control in poor conditions. Operating a motorcycle exposes the rider to a variety of hazards including wind, rain, hail, unexpected snowfall, extreme heat, and other hazards including collisions and losing traction.

Motorcycle accidents tend to cause more severe injuries than an accident in a motor vehicle because the motorcyclist does not have the protection of the car body.

Statistics show that a disproportionately high number of catastrophic injuries, such as brain damage, broken bones, paralysis, and death, are sustained by motorcyclists.

HELMETS REDUCE INJURIES

Doctors in Ontario have voiced concerns about the foreseeable risks to public safety that may arise by not wearing a helmet while operating a motorcycle. Helmets have been found to reduce head injuries by 67%, and death by 37%, according to Raynald Marchand of the Canada Safety Council.

Wearing an appropriate motorcycle safety helmet is one of the most important factors in preventing or reducing head injuries. Thus, the law requires motorcycle operators and passengers to wear an approved motorcycle safety helmet and specifically states that the chin strap of the helmet must be securely fastened under the chin. Operators must also ensure that passengers under the age of 16 also wear a proper safety helmet with the chin strap securely fastened.

According to the Safety Helmets Regulation of the Highway Traffic Act, a helmet must be worn by all persons riding or operating a motorcycle on a highway and must meet the following conditions:

  1. Have a hard, smooth outer shell lined with protective padding material or fitted with other energy absorbing material;
  2. Must be strongly attached to a strap designed to be fastened under the chin of the wearer;
  3. Must be undamaged from use or misuse;
  4. Must conform to the requirements of the Canadian Standards Association, Snell Memorial Foundation, British Standards Institute, United States of America Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard, or the United Nations Economic Commission and must bear the symbol, monogram, or certificate on the helmet.

RECOMMENDATIONS TO AVOID MOTORCYCLE COLLISIONS

In an effort to improve motorcycle safety, the following are recommendations for those travelling by motorcycle:

  1. Ensure your vehicle is in good working order: Inspect your motorcycle before driving it and ensure proper tire pressure, consider the condition of the tire tread, clean and adjust mirrors, test brakes, check lights, fuel, and oil levels, and look for broken strands, kinks, or binding of the cables.
  2. Always wear an approved helmet and high visibility protective clothing: Durable shoes, gloves, and heavy clothing are also recommended for a safe ride.
  3. Never use a cell phone or other hand-held device while operating a motorcycle.
  4. Do not operate a motorcycle when you are ill, fatigued, injured, emotionally distraught, or impaired in any manner.
  5. Allow drivers a healthy amount of space to manoeuver, especially when passing.
  6. Look twice when checking blind spots, changing lanes, and making turns.
  7. It is best to avoid potholes: Always look ahead for potholes and never follow a vehicle too closely to prevent noticing a pothole at the last second.
  8. Riders should keep their centre of gravity stable and balanced, and not look down to avoid losing control of their bike.
  9. Avoid braking on sand or gravel.

As the operator of a car or truck, the following are safety tips to follow in order to avoid a collision with a motorcycle:

  1. Treat motorcycles the same as any other vehicle on the road: Although motorcycles do not take up as much lane space, they should be treated like all other vehicles and allowed plenty of lane space.
  2. Always double-check your blind spots: Use your turn signal and double check to ensure the lane is clear before changing lanes.
  3. Always leave room: Motorcycles and cars require the same stopping distances. In unfavourable conditions, quick stops may be difficult for both types of drivers.
  4. Be cautious before pulling in front of motorcycles: Motorcycles may appear farther away due to their smaller size. They may also be hidden behind larger vehicles.
  5. Change lanes to allow for merging motorcycles.

If you have been injured in a motorcycle accident, you may require serious medical care and lengthy rehabilitation. If you are unable to work, the financial burdens can be extensive. At Jasmine Daya & Co., we help the victims of motorcycle accidents recover compensation for their injuries. We offer a free consultation to new clients that would like to discuss a potential legal claim. Contact us online or call our office at 416-967-9100 to make an appointment today.


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