WFJ Presents: Snowmobiles Are Fun! (Until They Aren’t): Safety Tips to Ensure Safe, Fun Riding This Winter
There are almost 500,000 registered snowmobiles in Wisconsin and Minnesota. It is a treasured winter pastime in the upper Midwest. It can also be a deadly and dangerous activity if precaution and common sense don’t prevail. This article covers important safety tips to stick to during your winter riding.
Today’s snowmobiles are powerful and fast machines. They can weigh in excess of 600 pounds and drive at speeds over 90 miles per hour. Nationwide, there are approximately 200 deaths and 14,000 injuries per year. There are approximately 30-40 deaths per year in Minnesota and Wisconsin combined. Over 50% of the deaths in Wisconsin and Minnesota are alcohol related. Most of the alcohol related deaths included running into a fixed object. Alcohol slows your reaction time and ability to make good decisions, which are kind of important when riding a snowmobile. Other leading causes of injury and death are excessive speed, driver inexperience, drowning and poor judgment. If you follow the below safety tips, it will surely help you have a safe and fun ride.
1. DON’T DRINK AND DRIVE!!!
2. DON’T DRINK AND DRIVE!!!
3. Know your abilities as a rider and don’t go beyond them
4. Don’t push your snowmobile’s capabilities beyond its limits
5. Know your riding area – prepare ahead of time
6. Keep your machine in good working order
7. Come to a complete stop before crossing roads. Cross at a right angle to traffic.
8. Dress appropriately and warmly. Remember that alcohol consumption increases the risk of hypothermia (even though you can’t feel it).
9. Wear a helmet and goggles.
10. DON’T snowmobile alone – stick to the buddy system.
11. Beware of the dark – slow down at night.
12. Beware of water – if you can avoid riding on lakes or rivers, do it. Not only are you at danger of falling through the ice (remember you and your machine are almost 1000 lbs.), you have far less traction on ice. If you fall into the ice your suit or helmet may keep you afloat for several minutes. Try to slide back onto the ice. Kick your feet to propel you onto the ice. Roll away from the hole and do not stand up until your well away from the hole.
13. Let someone know you are out riding or leave a written plan behind detailing your trip. Make sure you call your family and friends when you’ve gotten back or made it to your destination to avoid needless worry or needless searches.
14. Make sure your snowmobile is insured. Contact your insurance agent to make sure you are covered under an umbrella policy, homeowner’s policy or some other policy to make sure you and anyone riding your vehicle is covered in case of an accident.
Always rembember: Safety first! A safe ride is a fun ride.