Snowmobile accidents are rampant this time of year. Just recently a British woman died after colliding with a tree, a Michigan man’s death is being investigated after being found pinned beneath a snowmobile following an accident, and a 9 year-old boy was fatally injured after being thrown from a snowmobile in Colorado.
This winter sport has gained popularity in recent years, as more than 2 million people of all ages participate across the country. Yet with a weight in excess of 600 pounds and the ability to travel at speeds of 90 miles per hour, these popular cold weather machines can quickly turn into deadly weapons.
Each year snowmobile accidents produce approximately 200 deaths and 14,000 injuries. Excess speed, alcohol, driver inexperience, and poor judgment are the leading causes of accidents. Most snowmobiling injuries and deaths fall on males, aged twenty to thirty-four. Children under the age of 17 sustain 12% of all snowmobile injuries. Most of those are due to loss of control, rollover, striking a fixed object, or striking another snowmobile.
So how do you stay safe out there on the trails? Well the obvious would be to stay on designated trails, keep speeds at a reasonable rate, and avoid using drugs and alcohol if you’re planning on snowmobiling. Here are some more tips to follow in order to help you remain alert and ensure your safety on the trails:
- Make sure your snowmobile is in top condition.
- Always let someone know where you going and when you will return.
- Never ride alone.
- Watch your fuel supply – head out only to a point where the fuel gauge reads no less than one-half of a tank, then follow your track back.
- Be sure to have reflective trim somewhere on your snowmobile for night time visibility.
- Stay in control by knowing and staying within your own abilities and the abilities of the vehicle.
- Carry a safety kit containing a first aid kit, flashlight, matches, tool kit, and compass.
- Children under 16 years of age should not operate a snowmobile.
Be sure to dress right when snowmobiling. See our Polar Vortex Blog for information on how to dress for winter weather.
- Also, if riding across ice, such as a frozen lake, consider wearing a buoyant snowmobile suit. If the ice happens to break, the suit will keep you afloat and help protect you against hypothermia. It’s best however, to avoid riding over ice if possible.
- Always carry extra clothing, socks, boot liners, and mittens.
- Wear appropriate safety gear as well, including helmet and face shield or goggles.
Be on the watch for:
- Obstacles hidden in the snow.
- Trees and branches on the trail.
- Slow maintenance equipment.
- Other snowmobiles, sleds, skiers, walkers, and wildlife.
- Wash outs and flooding.
- Snow banks and moguls.
- Road and railway crossings.
- Unexpected corners, intersections, and stops.
- Bridges, open water, and unsafe ice.
- Logging operations.
Avalanches: They’re not just in the movies. They are a real, life-threatening winter hazard. Avalanche.org and Backcountryaccess.com both have excellent information about avalanches and safety information.
Hypothermia is the greatest threat for winter riders. Visit the Mayo Clinic website for information on causes, symptoms and treatment for hypothermia.
Follow the above guidelines and snowmobiling can be an exciting, yet safe activity in which to take part this season. Also keep in mind courtesy and protection of the environment when hitting the trails. However, if you or a loved one has been injured in a snowmobile accident that was the fault of another, you should talk to a personal injury attorney attorney. MBC has handled cases involving all types of recreational vehicles and would be happy to discuss your rights with you. Don’t hesitate to call us at (800) 992-9529, send us an email, or fill out our online form for a free consultation.
Now, go take pleasure in the winter wonderland around you and enjoy the ride!