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Snowmobile safety tips from the DNR

Posted at 7:48 AM, Jan 24, 2022
and last updated 2022-01-26 03:27:04-05

GRAND RAPIDS — The winter season is upon us which means its time to enjoy some snow sports. In Michigan alone there 6,500 miles of designated snowmobile trails plus thousands of acres off trail in the back country. Snowmobile safety always needs to be a priority as serious accidents happen every year. Snowmobile season continues until the end of March and speed is the number one cause of serious injuries or even death to snowmobile riders. Last season there were 315 crashes with 15 deaths compared to this season so far where there’s been 60 accidents and 3 deaths.

The DNR says before riders head out they need to prepare their machine and make sure they understand the capabilities of their snowmobile and also check the weather and plan for the type of trip your about to take. Lastly, tell someone where you are headed and when you are due to come back in case of an emergency. Laws on the trails work similarly to those we follow in our cars but snowmobiles are more dangerous to operate.

Cpl. Mike Hearn, the DNR snowmobile specialist says, "There's little room for error on a snowmobile. You know, I've seen tragic events with somebody get into an accident at 25 miles, 25 miles an hour. So, you know, to say that, you know, the danger levels at 50 or 55, that's just not true.There's just no giveaway on a snowmobile, like there isn't a car, you know, cars built for certain crash standards and snowmobiles don't have that at all."
The DNR’s Ride Right Campaign is currently working to get all riders on the same page to follow the same trail and groomer etiquette plus riding within your own capabilities. You can find a map with every DNR designated trails on their website plus sign up for a snowmobile safety class which is required for those 17 and under and highly encouraged for all.