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Off Highway Vehicles

Use of Off-Highway Vehicles within Big Lakes County

Using Off-Highway Vehicles (OHV) for recreational purposes can be a lot of fun, but does have the potential for personal injury, or even death. This is why the Big Lakes County is working to educate users about provincial acts and municipal bylaws relating to proper OHV operation as well as safety precautions to consider.

Out of respect for other’s property, all OHV operators must obtain permission from the property owner before traveling on private property. OHV use on private property can damage crops, fences and other items which people may have invested personal time and money; it is trespassing and against the law.

The Traffic Safety Act and the General Traffic Bylaw govern the rules and regulations that must be followed for an OHV to be operated on public property and the roads and streets within Big Lakes County.
The requirements in the Traffic Safety Act apply to all roads and public property within Alberta.

Definition according to: Traffic Safety Act

117(a): “off-highway vehicle” means any motorized mode of transportation built for cross-country travel on land, water, snow, ice or marsh or swamp land or on other natural terrain and, without limiting the generality of the foregoing, includes, when specifically designed for such travel,

(i) 4-wheel drive vehicles

(ii) low pressure tire vehicles

(iii) motorcycles and related 2-wheel vehicles

(iv) amphibious vehicles

(v) all-terrain vehicles

(vi) miniature motor vehicles

(vii) snow vehicles

(viii) minibikes, and

(ix) any other means of transportation that is propelled by any power other than muscular power or wind (but does not include motor boats


Crossing a Highway: An OHV may be driven across a highway, including the roadway, parking lane or sidewalk portion of the highway, if the following occurs:

  • The driver must stop the off-highway vehicle before crossing.
  • All passengers must be off the OHV and any vehicle or thing attached to it before the driver starts to cross the highway.
  • The driver must yield the right of way to all other vehicles and persons on the highway.• The driver must drive the most direct and shortest route of travel available.
  • A licence is not required to cross a highway.
  • Local guidelines may apply in municipalities, Forest Land Use Zones, Special Management Areas, areas with access management plans and other high-traffic areas.

Operator’s Licence: On Private Land & Off-Highway -The operator is not required to have an operator’s licence. On-Highway - The operator is required to have an operator’s licence when operating on-highway; any class of licence may be used from 1 through 7. No licence is required if just crossing a highway.

Minimum Driving Age: The minimum age for operating OHV on public land or highways is 14 years where permitted. If the operator is younger than 14 years, he/she may operate on public land with supervision by someone 18 years of age or older who is either on the same off-highway vehicle or in close proximity. If operating on private property, no age restriction applies.

Registration: OHV must be registered before operating on Alberta’s roads. This applies only to public land and highways. No registration required if on private property.

Insurance: OHV must be insured for operation on public land or highways. No insurance required if on private property.

Vehicle Equipment: OHV must be equipped with the following: a headlamp, tail lamp, and a muffler. Anything that is being towed must have a tow bar.


Within Big Lakes County, the General Traffic Bylaw permits OHV to be operated on county roads provided that:

In a Hamlet

The maximum speed limit while riding in a Hamlet is 30 km/h.

Operation of OHV is between 8:00 a.m. and 11:00 p.m.

On County Range Roads & Township Roads

The maximum speed limit while riding on a road surface or ditch is 50 km/h.


At All Times

  • All Traffic Safety Act and Regulations regarding the operation of OHV must be followed.
  • OHV must travel on the right side of the road, with traffic.
  • The operator and passenger, if any, must be wearing CSA approved helmets.
  • There may not be more people on the OHV than the OHV is designed to carry.
  • OHV are prohibited in all schoolyards, any posted recreation areas or playgrounds and any land marked with signage.
  • OHV are not allowed to be left unattended with the engine running.




OHV are prohibited from operating on any Provincial Highway. The definition of a 'Highway' also includes the ditch.

OHV are prohibited from operating anywhere except for private property if the conditions set out in the Traffic Safety Act and the General Traffic Bylaw are not met.

Miniature Vehicles and Minibikes may not be operated on any Highway in Alberta; they may only be operated on private property. These vehicles are motor vehicles as defined in the Traffic Safety Act; however, they also meet the definition of “miniature vehicles” which are not permitted on a highway in Alberta, including sidewalks alongside the roadway.


OHV Safety Tips

While some safety guidelines may be required by law, good riding means planning, safety and following guidelines like these:

  • Always ride within your abilities.
  • Dress to spill- wear appropriate protective gear.
  • Travel in a group of two or more riders.
  • One rider per machine (unless the machine is designed for two).
  • Do not ride a machine that is too big for you.
  • Always provide someone with a ride plan. This should include where and when you are riding, as well as a return time and date.
  • Be in shape to take all the punishments a trail will offer. Be prepared to walk out in case of breakdown.
  • Prepare for the unexpected- have an emergency kit with you.
  • Check the weather forecast before leaving.
  • Do not drink alcohol and ride.
  • Obey all traffic and information signs.


For more information feel free to contact Big Lakes County or your local RCMP Detachment.