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Minnesota DNR officials offer safety tips for snowmobilers

Safety officials with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources say the state offers great snowmobiling opportunities, but they want those taking to the trails to be safe.

"We want people to take advantage of the snowmobiling opportunities that exist in Minnesota," said Capt. Mike Hammer, DNR Enforcement Education Program coordinator. "However, this sport can be very dangerous when safety rules are ignored."

Here are some tips safety officials say can help increase snowmobile safety:

  • Take a safety training course; to legally ride a snowmobile, residents born after Dec. 31, 1976, need a valid snowmobile safety certificate.
  • Maximum speed in Minnesota is 50 mph; many times trail conditions or riding at night require slower speeds.
  • Stay away from alcohol; it's a major factor in most accidents.
  • Be cautious of hidden dangers, especially when operating in a road right-of-way; this includes silt fences, soil stockpiles, pieces of unused concrete culverts, wooden survey stakes and steel right of way markers may remain during the winter months after construction activity ceases; watch for sedimentation ponds, brush piles and scattered rocks and boulders that may be obscured by fallen snow.
  • Slow down, especially at night, over-riding your headlight is another major cause of accidents.
  • Display current snowmobile registration.
  • Stay off the roadway, shoulder, and slope of state and county highways operate your snowmobile in the same direction as highway traffic when riding one-half hour after sunset to one-half hour before sunrise.
  • Stay off the median of four-lane highways.
  • Come to a complete stop and look both ways before crossing a public roadway.
  • Cross public roadways at a 90-degree angle.
  • Check local ordinances on when and where you may ride.
  • Stay on marked trails; the future of our trail system depends on it.
  • A person under the age of 14, without a snowmobile safety certificate, may operate a snowmobile when supervised or accompanied by a parent, legal guardian or other person 18 years of age or older designated by the parent or guardian.
  • Remember, ice is never safe.
  • Never ride alone.
  • Make sure your machine is in proper operating condition.
  • Join a snowmobile club.