For New England snowmobile enthusiasts, a fresh blanket of white is an invitation to get out and enjoy the winter. These powerful vehicles provide an exciting ride through a variety of terrains. However, they carry a risk for personal injury if you’re not careful. Following some basic safety tips can ensure a winter of safe and fun riding.
7 Snowmobile Safety Tips You Need to Know
1. Don’t drink and drive. Just as with any motor vehicle, drinking is a big risk factor for getting in an accident. Many states report that 70% of fatal snowmobile accidents involve a driver who has been drinking. Alcohol not only slows your reaction time, it also lowers your body temperature, putting you at a higher risk for hypothermia.
2. Dress appropriately. Snowmobiling requires that you be dressed for both cold New England weather and safety. You should always wear a helmet and facemask when riding. Warm, water-repellent clothing worn in layers can help keep you dry and warm during your ride. Remember to wear warm footwear and gloves to protect your extremities from frostbite.
3. Maintain your equipment. Getting stranded out on the trail could mean hypothermia, frostbite, or worse. Make sure your snowmobile is maintained properly, and thoroughly check it and your safety gear before heading out. This can help avoid preventable break-downs far from home.
4. Bring an emergency kit. Even a well-maintained vehicle can break down or get in an accident. You should always have an emergency kit with you, including a flashlight, map, knife, and matches. Spare parts to make simple repairs can also come in handy. Though cellphones may not always work, it’s a good idea to bring one with you, and make sure it’s charged before leaving.
5. Tell a friend where you’re going. Riding in a group is the safest option, giving you the security of a friend to help if an accident occurs. However, if you’re going out alone, be sure someone knows your route and when you expect to be back so they can send for help if you don’t arrive home.
6. Use marked trails and follow the rules of the road. While going off-trail can be exciting, it’s also dangerous. Obstacles hidden under the snow can quickly cause an accident and damage your vehicle and put you at risk for injury. It can also damage the environment. When riding on a trail, be sure to use headlights as needed, stay to the right, and be ready to react to other snowmobiles.
7. Be wary of ice. Ice can often seem stable until you get out on it – when it’s too late, and you are trapped. If you aren’t sure of the thickness and stability of the ice, don’t try to ride over it. If your path involves ice, wear a life jacket over your other gear in case the ice breaks beneath you.
Snowmobiling in New England is a fun and exciting way to enjoy the snow and travel in the winter. However, you must remember that it is a power motor vehicle and it carries a risk for serious injury and death. As always, feel free to contact an insurance agent near you to talk about how you can use your insurance to better protect yourself. By dressing appropriately and taking proper precautions you can reduce your risk for accidents so you can get out and enjoy the ride.