Snowmobiling is a thrilling yet risky way to enjoy the great outdoors. Accidents can happen in the blink of an eye - that's why it's important to remember a few key points before you head out on the trails.
Keep your rides scenic and safe with the following safety recommendations:
- Wear a helmet, eye protection and protective clothing suitable for the environment that you are riding in. Check the local forecast before you go out, and dress yourself appropriately to avoid cold-related illness. By dressing in layers, you can adjust to changing conditions.
- Drive defensively. Never assume what another snowmobile operator will do. Because your helmet and engine noise can impair hearing, and visibility can be reduced depending on weather conditions, it is important to always be alert of potential danger.
- Do not allow young or inexperienced riders to operate snowmobiles without supervision. It is strongly recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics that children under the age of 16 do not operate snowmobiles.
- Do not consume alcohol or use drugs before or during your ride.
- Learn the proper riding skills and practice them while the motor is turned off. Many states require a snowmobile certificate (each state has its own rules and regulations), but even if you are not required to take the course, it is an excellent opportunity to learn riding techniques that help avoid accidents.
- Stay on trails designated for snowmobile use.
- Always maintain a safe distance between other riders, and never ride alone. It's not only more fun to ride with a friend, but a good idea to have someone with you incase your snowmobile breaks down or you get into an accident. Keep in mind that cell phones aren't always reliable on the trails, so it is also a good idea to tell a family member of your plans for your ride in case you get stranded.
- Always obey all signs and posted regulations, particularly curfews, sound laws, and speed limits
- Familiarize yourself with the area that you are riding in, and become aware of potential hazards. Stay alert in new areas, watching for rocks, ditches, fences, animals or open water. Avoid frozen rivers as it is impossible to gauge the appropriate thickness of ice just by looking, and it can easily give way under the weight of your snowmobile.
- Always ride at a safe and responsible speed. Follow the posted speed limits on trails, and slow down to give yourself time to react to unexpected occurrences. According to a report from NY Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservations’ Snowmobile Unit, “Unsafe speed is the primary cause of snowmobile accidents.”
- Clear snow and ice off of your tail lights frequently. Remembering to do this helps avoid accidents by ensuring other riders can see your intention to slow down or brake.
- Carry an emergency kit with first-aid supplies, tools for quick repairs, and basic emergency items for the trail like: a blanket, a map, water and snacks, matches, a tow rope, a knife and a flashlight.
Before you turn on the engine, it is wise to learn how to properly operate the mechanical controls and safety devices of the vehicle. It is also important to read the owner’s manual and take a safety course. Inexperienced riders are much more likely to be involved in serious snowmobiling accidents than their seasoned counterparts. Therefore, you should contact your state’s Department of Natural Resources for more information on available safety courses for both adults and young riders. In most states, they are mandatory for extremely young riders (ages 10 to 15) if they intend to ride off their parents’ property.
Your snowmobile insurance needs are different from what your auto or homeowners insurance can provide. Contact Marshall & Sterling to get a quote today!
This article is for informational purposes only and is not intended as professional advice.