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Avoiding Snowmobile Accidents
There are thousands of injuries and at least a hundred deaths reported every year in the U.S. due to snowmobile accidents. You don’t have to become a winter weather casualty. A significant number of these deaths are a result of collisions with trees, other vehicles, bridges, and wires. Preventing snowmobile accidents is easy, if you follow these simple safety tips.
SNOWMOBILE SAFETY COURSE
First and foremost, complete a snowmobile safety course (required by Minnesota law for anyone born after December 31, 1976). You can find a course through the Minnesota Department of Natural Resourcesthat will help provide you with the skills and information necessary for safe and legal operation of your snowmobile. In addition, be well-versed in the snowmobile laws and regulations for the area you are in.
DRINKING AND YOUR SNOWMOBILE
It is NEVER safe to drink and ride. For your safety and the safety of others, NEVER consume alcoholic beverages before or while operating a snowmobile.
ROAD SAFETY AND CONDITIONS
Keep safety in mind and use common sense when approaching roads or railroad tracks.
Signal with each turn you make and watch for other vehicles.
Keep road conditions in mind when making decisions, including speed.
Watch out for hidden rocks, downed trees, barbed wire, or other obstacles in your path by keeping your eyes on your trail at all times.
Avoid operating a snowmobile in bad weather. Check for storm advisories and warnings before beginning your ride.
RIDE WITH A BUDDY
Always use the buddy system in case of accident, injury, or unexpected emergency.
Refrain from crossing unfamiliar territory—especially without a more familiar guide.
Use only clearly established trails and marked areas.
Avoid water and frozen lakes. Since it is impossible to judge the thickness or depth of ice, this is an unnecessary risk to take.
Always maintain a safe following distance of 2-3 seconds when riding with others.
Always slow down on the tops of hills or snow banks to avoid unexpected hazards and collisions.
Do not attempt to jump snow banks – snowmobile lose their ability to be effectively controlled when the skis are off the ground.
Slow down – most snowmobile fatalities can be prevented if accidents happen at slower speeds.
Use extra caution when operating a snowmobile at night. Low light conditions can make seeing obstacles with enough time to avoid them more difficult and potentially fatal.
Nighttime speeds should never go above 40 mph. You up your chances of avoiding a hazard at this speed, since you’ll see it illuminated by your headlamps in time to swerve or stop.
Never ride new trails at night.
By following these simple, common sense safety precautions, you can avoid or reduce your risk of snowmobile accidents this season. Also, remember to carry snowmobile insurance, just in case an accident does occur.
Have a safe and fun winter season!
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