Being Safe as You Snowmobile

Duluth, Minn. – – So far this season, the Minnesota DNR already reports at least six snowmobile deaths, including one just last week in the Morcom Township involving a 55-year-old woman from the Twin Cities. That number already matches the total number of snowmobile related fatalities last year.  As we gear up for a long three-day weekend with warm temperatures, the DNR urges riders to stay safe while providing a list of things to keep in mind.

Alexander Birdsall ,a conservation officer with the Minnesota DNR says, “So we urge riders to have a plan. Ride together in a group. Don’t drink and drive. Alcohol and snowmobiles do not go well.  Keep your speed down. That means following the statewide speed limit on public trails and waterways that are frozen.”

Other ways to stay safe on the trails is to always stay to the right when passing other riders and give them as much room as possible. Riding at lower speeds based on weather conditions will also help you spot obstacles early enough that you can avoid them.  Finally, it cannot be stated enough how important it is to check ice depth when riding on frozen water.  At least five to seven inches of new ice is needed to support the weight of a snowmobile and rider.

Another way to stay safe when riding is doing the simple things such as staying on designated trails says Bidsall. “Not only is it a violation to go onto private property or ride off trail, there are inherent risks with riding off trails.  We count on countless volunteers to maintain and groom our trails throughout the entire state. That means they groom them, but they also clear them of potential hazards and obstacles.”

Minnesota law requires that all snowmobile operators born after 1976 complete a safety course which adult operators can do online.  For those who are ages 12 to 15, a one-day classroom review and riding performance course must also be completed.

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