As another snowmobile season gets underway in many parts of the northern United States and Canada, state Department of Natural Resources are encouraging snowmobilers to get this season off to a smooth, safe start.
For example, snowmobile trails in Minnesota opened December 1; however, some states do not open its trails until firearm deer hunting season closes, so check to be sure.
Also, check you state DNR for regulations on whether a snowmobile safety training course is needed to legally ride a snowmobile.
In a snowmobile safety course, students learn about the machine, the laws, safe operation, ethics of the sport, and how to avoid the most common causes of snowmobile accidents.
A news release from the Minnesota DNR notes snowmobile safety courses can be completed by either attending a snowmobile safety training course from a DNR-certified instructor in a local community or by CD. Check if your state DNR offers the same thing.
The Minnesota DNR notes that snowmobilers should follow these safety tips:
Don’t Drink Alcohol
Drinking alcohol before or during snowmobiling can impair judgment and slow reaction time. Snowmobilers who have been drinking tend to make poor decisions that can lead to injury or death. Alcohol also causes body temperature to drop at an accelerated rate, which increases the likelihood of hypothermia.
Speed is a contributing factor in nearly all fatal snowmobiling accidents. Drivers should proceed at a pace that will allow ample reaction time for any situation. Remember, when driving at night at speeds of 40 mph and above, you’ll easily “over drive” your headlight and won’t be able to stop in time to avoid a collision.
When traveling, tell someone the destination and return time. Bring a map, a first-aid kit, a flashlight, waterproof matches/lighter, compass, and cell phone.
Fatigue can reduce the driver’s coordination and judgment. Changing trail conditions are potential hazards to stay alert for to avoid injuries or death.
Avoid traveling across bodies of water when uncertain of ice thickness and strength of ice on lakes and ponds. Snow cover can act as a blanket and prevent safe ice from forming. Always remember that ice is never safe!
Use a full-size helmet, goggles or face shield to prevent injuries from twigs, stones, ice, and flying debris. Clothing should be worn in layers and should be just snug enough so that no loose ends catch in the machine.
Watch The Weather
Rapid weather changes can produce dangerous conditions.
Bring a Buddy
Never travel alone. Most snowmobile accidents result in some personal injury. The most dangerous situations can occur if a person is injured and alone.
Check the rules for your state on reporting accidents, but in Minnesota the operator of a snowmobile involved in an accident resulting in medical attention, hospitalization, death, or damage exceeding $500 must file a written report with the DNR. Accident reports must be submitted within 10 business days of the accident. If the operator is killed or is unable to file a report due to incapacitation, any peace officer investigating the accident can file the accident report.
Be safe this snowmobiling season!
New to snowmobiling and not sure where to ride? Check this link in Guide Outdoors to Snowmobile trails around the United States and Canada!
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How about it? Guide Outdoors fans … are you a snowmobile enthusiast? Tell us where you like to traverse the trails!