With Michigan’s snowmobile season in full gear, Department of Natural Resources conservation officers remind riders that safety is key to enjoying their sport.
“Snowmobiling is a great way to spend the winter months,” said Lt. Tom Wanless, DNR recreational safety programs supervisor. “But when operating a snowmobile or any type of vehicle, safety comes first. This includes riding within your own abilities, operating at safe and appropriate speeds for the terrain, always wearing a helmet and proper clothing, and never operating your machine while under the influence of alcohol or drugs.”
Other safety tips include:
- Always keep your snowmobile in top mechanical condition.
- Wear insulated boots and protective clothing, including a helmet, gloves and eye protection.
- Only ride in designated areas and trails.
- Check weather conditions before riding and be aware of changing trail conditions.
- Pick safe places to stop off the trail and never park or stand in the trail.
- Exercise additional caution when riding on an unfamiliar trail, or when riding at night.
- Never ride alone; use the “buddy system.”
- Keep headlights and taillights on at all times and keep them clear of snow, ice or other debris.
- Be alert to avoid fences and low-strung wires.
- Use caution when approaching a trail intersection, come to a complete stop when required, and look both ways for traffic before proceeding.
- Stay clear of trail groomers, if possible. Never follow groomers, and give them the right of way.
- Avoid crossing frozen bodies of water, when possible. If you must cross, never do so while riding in single file.
- Wear a life jacket if operating on frozen bodies of water.
- Don’t trespass. If you don’t know whose property you are on, you probably don’t belong there.
Snowmobile safety education training and online safety courses are recommended for all snowmobile operators and are required for those who are 12 to 16 years old.
Snowmobilers also should learn the rules and regulations for snowmobiling in Michigan, as well as the universal snowmobile trail signage developed by the DNR to help ensure safety on the trails.
A valid snowmobile registration from the Michigan Secretary of State, or another state or province, is required for all snowmobiles. Snowmobilers also must purchase a trail permit, which is valid for one year (Oct. 1 to Sept. 30), when operating on public trails.
Learn more about snowmobiling in Michigan at http://michigan.gov/snowmobiling