DNR encourages snowmobilers to drive safely
We've got snow -- the best and earliest snow conditions in several years.
Capt. Mike Hammer, DNR Enforcement Education Program coordinator, said "Drivers should also be aware of potential hazards, changing conditions and use good judgment."
Hammer said DNR Snowmobile Safety Training is the best place to start.
To legally ride a snowmobile, residents born after Dec. 31, 1976, need a valid snowmobile safety certificate.
Anyone 11 and older can attend a traditional classroom course taught in local communities. For those 16 or older, a DNR Adult Snowmobile Safety CD-ROM is available.
"With the CD-ROM, people can learn at home, fill out the quizzes/exam and send their results in to be officially certified," Hammer said.
The CD-ROM and the DNR's 2006-07 Minnesota Snowmobile Safety Laws, Rules, and Regulations handbook, are available from the DNR at (651) 296-6157, toll-free (888) 646-6367), or by e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Safe riding tips recommended by the DNR
Drinking alcohol before or during snowmobiling can impair judgment and slow reaction time. Snowmobilers who have been drinking tend to make poor decisions that can lead to injury or death. Alcohol also causes body temperature to drop at an accelerated rate, which increases the likelihood of hypothermia.
Speed is a contributing factor in nearly all fatal snowmobiling accidents. Proceed at a pace that allows ample reaction time. When driving at night at speeds of 40 mph and above, drivers will easily "over drive" their headlight and won't be able to stop in time to avoid a collision.
Tell someone where you are going and when you plan to return. Also, bring a map, a first aid kit, a flashlight, waterproof matches/lighter, compass and cell phone.
Changing trail conditions are potential hazards that people want to stay alert for to avoid injuries or death.
Avoid traveling across bodies of water when uncertain of ice thickness and strength of ice on lakes and ponds. Snow cover can act as a blanket and prevent safe ice from forming.
Dress for success
Use a full-size helmet, goggles or face shield to prevent injuries from twigs, stones, ice and flying debris. Clothing should be worn in layers and should be just snug enough so that no loose ends can catch in the machine.
Watch the weather
Rapid weather changes can produce dangerous conditions.
Bring a buddy
Never travel alone. Most snowmobile accidents result in some personal injury. The most dangerous situations can occur if a person is injured and alone. Let someone know of your plans.
The operator of a snowmobile involved in an accident resulting in medical attention, hospitalization, death, or damage exceeding $500 must file a written report with the DNR. Accident reports must be submitted within 10 business days of the accident.
If the operator is killed or is unable to file a report due to incapacitation, any peace officer investigating the accident can file the accident report.