Staying Safe on the Snowmobile this Winter
Taking certain precautions when riding a snowmobile may help people stay safe this winter. Snowmobiles are a popular winter mode of transportation and recreational activity for people throughout Indiana. Accidents involving these off-road vehicles are all too common, however, and often result in serious injuries or death for those involved.
Common Factors in Snowmobile Accidents
Snowmobile accidents can happen for a variety of reasons, but several factors commonly contribute to their occurrence. Many snowmobiles are able to travel at speeds of 90 miles per hour or more. Excessive speed often plays a role in collisions, falls, and overturn accidents involving snowmobiles. Driver inexperience, as well as alcohol use and poor judgment, also regularly factor into snowmobile accidents.
Performing Regular Maintenance Checks
Ensuring their snowmobiles are in sound working condition before each ride may help snowmobilers avoid breaking down or suffering malfunctions that affect their ability to safely operate their vehicles. Before going for a ride, snowmobilers should check:
- The tension adjustments of the track
- The alignment of the skis
- The wear on the drive belt
Snowmobilers should also ensure the air intakes on their vehicles are free of obstructions, the brakes are working correctly, and the throttle moves freely.
Using the Buddy System
Whether on a marked trail or exploring on their own, people should always use the buddy system when snowmobiling. If an accident or another emergency occurs, a second rider can seek help if needed and provide other life-saving assistance.
Wearing the Right Gear
When snowmobiling, it is essential for riders to wear the appropriate protective gear. Snowmobiles lack the exterior protection offered by some on-road vehicles. Wearing a safety-certified helmet, a visor, protective goggles, and warm gloves may help provide vital protection in the event of a crash.
Avoiding Drinking and Snowmobiling
Consuming alcohol or using drugs and riding a snowmobile is as hazardous as drinking and driving. After as few as two alcoholic drinks, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports people may experience effects such as relaxation, mood alteration, and reduced judgment. For drivers and snowmobile riders alike, this may impair their ability to divide their attention between two tasks and decrease their visual function. The effects of alcohol on the body may reduce snowmobile riders’ ability to safely operate their vehicles, which may result in serious accidents.