REGIONAL—December’s heavy snowfall may have set the stage for excellent snowmobiling conditions across the state, but that has also brought with it a rise in snowmobile related crashes. …
REGIONAL—December’s heavy snowfall may have set the stage for excellent snowmobiling conditions across the state, but that has also brought with it a rise in snowmobile related crashes.
“Opportunities to ride snowmobiles are entirely dependent upon the weather, and in years when there’s a lot of snow, like this year, we see an uptick in riders,” said Capt. Jon Paurus, DNR Enforcement education program coordinator. “It’s imperative that anyone who plans to head out makes good decisions and keeps safety at the top of their mind.”
Already this snowmobile season, too many rides have ended in tragedy. While the DNR doesn’t yet have official reports for all fatalities, preliminary reports indicate six riders have died in crashes this season — that’s the same number as the entire 2021-2022 snowmobile season and double the number of the 2020-2021 season. Eleven snowmobile riders died in 2019-2020 and 10 died in 2018-2019. With the peak of the snowmobile season still ahead, the state could well top those troubling statistics.
It doesn’t have to be that way. The DNR is offering these tips to help riders enjoy the trails and make it back home safely:
• Stay on marked trails. Minnesota’s snowmobile clubs work hard to maintain good riding conditions on the state’s trails. Riders who stay on groomed trails are less likely to strike an obstacle or trespass onto private property. (Civil penalties for snowmobile trespass have doubled this year.) Riders can check trail conditions on the DNR website (mndnr.gov/snow_depth) before heading out.
• Don’t ride impaired. Drinking and riding is a primary cause of crashes and plays a role in about 60% of those that are fatal.
• Watch your speed and stay to the right. Going too fast is another main cause of crashes. Many serious and fatal crashes occur when a speeding snowmobiler loses control or strikes an object. When meeting another snowmobile, always slow down and stay to the right.
• Take a snowmobile safety course. It’s required of anyone born after 1976 and recommended for everyone. People with snowmobile safety certification are less likely to be involved in serious or fatal crashes.
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