Safety while driving a snowmobile in a winter | Outdoor Newspaper
Safety while driving a snowmobile in a winter | Outdoor Newspaper

With the way this winter has been going it is safe to say that the trails will be open all the way to the end of the season.

Even though there is less than a month left it is not to late to recap snowmobile safety. In fact it is the perfect time. With the large amount of snow and snow in places that may not normally have much this time of year there may be some “newbies” out there, and a little refresher never hurts.

So here goes.

The Number 1 RULE is Zero Alcohol!

Don’t consume any alcohol or any drugs that could impair your senses before or during your ride.

Save the party for after the snowmobile is parked for the day and you and your friends are all safely back at the hotel, cabin or home.

So WHY Zero Alcohol?

Alcohol and other drugs will slow down reaction time as well as impair critical thinking.

There were 23 snowmobiling fatalities in Wisconsin during the last season.  In 70 % of them Alcohol was the leading contributing factor. That is 16.1 deaths that could have been avoided by just waiting to have that drink.

Slow down.

In nearly every snowmobiling accident that has ended in loss of life, speed has been a contributing factor. Maintain a speed that will allow time for you to stop in an emergency.

Be a safe driver slow down for trail corners cutting to the inside is not only dangerous but also illegal.

Drivers should proceed at a pace that will allow ample reaction time for any situation.

When driving a night never outdrive your headlights.

Never travel alone.

Always ride with a buddy.

A fun ride can become a very dangerous situation if an accident were to occur and there is no one there to help or call for help.

Generally speaking a snowmobile accident means someone will be hurt to some extent, So if you have no choice but to go alone be sure someone knows your destination, what trails you are taking and when you expect to get there and return home.

Be Prepared (even on short trips)

Always carry a GPS and a map of the trails you plan to ride, even if you are familiar with the area.

Carry a Cell Phone Satellite Phone or even walkie talkies some way to communicate with the rest of your crew if you get separated.

Check for Winter Weather Advisories or Warnings

Check with local snowmobile clubs to find out the condition of trails before you ride.

Turn up your machine, make sure all is in working order.

Never leave without a full tank of gas and the oil filled up.

Dress Appropriately

Always were a snowmobile helmet with either a full-face mask/shield or goggles.

Wear layers of clothing that are water repellent.

Be sure there are no loose strings or ties that could get caught or tangled in the snowmobile or other equipment.

Carry a first-aid kit

Flashlight

Pocket Knife

Compass

Map

Waterproof matches

Extra Batteries

Avoid traveling across bodies of water

It is always best to avoid traveling across water as there are a few factors that can affect thickness and safety of ice. Whether it is a lake, pond or river, things such as rapid weather change (always check weather before leaving for a ride) and how much snow is one top of the ice can affect the safety by not allowing it to form a strong thick layer.

If you must travel across ice be proactive. Check ice conditions by speaking to local police, bait shops and the area snowmobile clubs first.

Stay on marked trails

Where marked trails are not available follow the rules set by the DNR.

If you are in an area where it is allowed ride on the right shoulder of the road.

Return to the trail as soon as possible.

Be alert for fences, tree stumps and stretched wire that may be concealed by snow