Snowmobile Safety Tips
Stay safe and warm on the trail with our snowmobiling guide
In cold weather regions, the first snow often signals a chance to hit the snowmobile trails. If you ride regularly, you know snowmobiles can reach speeds of 90 MPH and weigh more than 600 pounds. With those speeds and weights, snowmobile accidents are often very serious. In fact, 200 people die and nearly 14,000 snowmobile accidents are reported annually. Whether you are an experienced snowmobiler or heading out for the first time, here’s your go-to guide to help you enjoy the ride:
- Slow down. Speed is a contributing factor in many fatal snowmobiling accidents, particularly at night. Keep your nighttime speed below 40 MPH.
- Wear a helmet. Never operate a snowmobile without one.
- Know the rules in your state. Wherever you’re riding, get to know the rules and follow them when you ride. For instance, many states require you take a snowmobile safety certification course before legally operating a snowmobile.
- Have a plan before you head out. Decide which routes and trails you would like to ride on as well as the length of time you plan to ride. Check conditions. And, tell family or friends where you’ll be and the time you plan on returning.
- Go together. Avoid riding alone. If you get in a snowmobile accident, others in your party can call for help.
- Signal your actions. Make clear, deliberate hand signals so you can communicate your intended actions to other snowmobile drivers near you.
- Be aware of speed and distance. Understand relative speed and the distance between you and other drivers, especially at night.
- Don’t override your headlights. Overriding your headlights means that they don’t illuminate the area where your snowmobile will finally stop. If you ride at speeds over 40 mph in poor conditions, you may not be able to stop soon enough to avoid hitting potential obstacles on the trail, a leading cause of snowmobile injuries and fatalities.
- Dress for the weather. In winter, temperatures can drop suddenly. Pack an extra hat, mittens, gloves and pocket warmers, just in case.
- Exercise caution on the ice. Travel over ice only when you are absolutely sure it is strong enough to support your snowmobile. Travel at low speeds, know where other riders are, and look for potential hazards like open water.
- Be aware of potential avalanche dangers. Mountain snowmobilers need to be aware of their surroundings, and that includes avalanches. For additional information on avalanche safety, visit www.fsavalanche.org.
- Don’t drink and ride. The majority of snowmobile crashes involve alcohol. When snowmobiling, remember you are operating a motorized vehicle that could hurt or kill you or others, especially if driven while intoxicated.
Here’s to great — and safe — snowmobiling through stunning winter scenery. From us to you — enjoy the ride!