Product Liability


There appears to be some debate about classifying vehicles such as the Yamaha Rhino as an Off Road Vehicle (ORV), sometimes also called Off Highway Vehicle (OHV), versus an All Terrain Vehicle (ATV). While ATVs are also classified as ORVs or OHVs, because they are designed to be operated off standard asphalt highway surfaces, not all OHVs can be called ATVs, according to a story recently published in The Northern Times, serving Kapuskasing, Ontario, Canada.

According to the story, Rhino operators are discovering that side-by-side off-road vehicles such as theirs are technically classified as ORVs, which may be subject to different legislation than ATVs, including requiring operators to register the vehicle, wear a helmet and carry proof of insurance.

Provincial legislation draws a clear distinction between ATVs and ORVs, classifying an all-terrain vehicle as having saddle-seating designed for one person, and handlebars, while Rhinos are technically off-road vehicles – they have a steering wheel, bench seats, and are designed for up to four people.

A quick search for ORV and ATV regulations reveals that most U.S. states have various laws governing the operation of these types of vehicles, and also different ways of classifying them. Some states draw a clear distinction between ATVs and ORVs, while others are not as specific. Many times, the terms are used interchangeably.

In many states, an ATV or ORV must be titled – this is proof of ownership. Additionally, some states require that an off-road vehicle is registered for riding on public land and roads, and ATVs are only permitted on public land and roads that are clearly designated for use by off-highway vehicles (OHVs or ORVs).

According to information provided by the Alabama Department of Revenue, Motor Vehicle Division, in Alabama, any vehicle used on public roads must be registered, titled, and tagged by the Department of Revenue’s Motor Vehicle Division (MVD). However, there is an exemption for both ATVs and ORVs. If you have a vehicle used only on your own property or off-road, you do not have to register, title, or tag it.

Each state is different, so ATV and ORV owners should check with their state for distinctions and regulations.