Staying Safe While SnowmobilingSnowmobile accidents can be just as deadly as car crashes, and authorities want snowmobile riders to know how to keep themselves-and others-safe.
By: Renee Chmiel, WDAZ
Snowmobile accidents can be just as deadly as car crashes, and authorities want snowmobile riders to know how to keep themselves-and others-safe.
Snowmobiling is a fun wintertime hobby for many people in the area. But it can be deadly if you aren't careful. One of the simplest things riders can do to stay safe is to stay on the trails.
Trent Stahlecker/Polk County Sheriff's Department: "They're groomed. They're flat, and they're not uneven. They're made for you to enjoy your ride."
Venturing off the trails can lead riders onto private property, where it is never legal to ride. It can also mean they are riding in an area where there may be bumps, obstacles, or debris.
Bob Rost/Grand Forks County Sheriff's Department: "They need to be aware of guideline wires or barbed wires or whatever. A lot of accidents occur that way."
Rost says alcohol is a major factor in many snowmobile accidents. People may stop for drinks while riding their sleds, and think it's safe to drive home.
Bob Rost: "Same as operating a car: .08. You can be charged for operating a snowmobile under the influence."
Kids age 14 and younger need a special certification to ride. They also can't cross county or state lines without a parent. Authorities say sometimes the best protection is to be informed.
Trent Stahlecker: "Join a club. You get everything. You get all the guidelines. You get all the information that you need to know."
Stahlecker says it's also important to follow all speed limits, since they're there to keep riders safe. Authorities say riders need to be extra careful snowmobiling at night, and should be careful not to overdrive their headlights. Drivers also need to be on the lookout for snowmobiles because like motorcycles, they are small and can be difficult to see.