The Illinois Department of Natural Resources is reminding snowmobile operators and riders to take extra caution this year when snow falls in Illinois.
Every year throughout the state, people are seriously injured or lose their lives on snowmobiles. Many of these accidents could have been prevented had reasonable and proper precautions been taken.
In most instances, being alert and sober, knowing the trail, and traveling at a reasonable rate of speed for trail conditions can prevent most accidents. In North America, more than 50 percent of snowmobile fatalities involve intoxicated operators.
Last season (2012-2013) in Illinois, 34 reported snowmobile accidents resulted in three fatalities.
“Most snowmobile accidents or fatalities we see could have been prevented had common sense and safety been practiced before and during the ride,” said Illinois Conservation Police Chief Rafael Gutierrez. “It doesn’t matter what your intentions are before you set out to ride – if you aren’t prepared, accidents are more likely to happen.”
While IDNR encourages everyone to take a snowmobile safety class before their first ride of the season, state law requires that persons at least 12 years of age and less than 16 years must have in possession a valid Snowmobile Safety Education Certificate of Competency issued by IDNR in order to operate a snowmobile alone.
While most of the traditional instructor-led safety courses administered by the IDNR have taken place this year, snowmobilers can also satisfy state safety requirements by taking one of two online courses to become familiar with safe sledding practices or to refresh themselves on staying safe. Individuals can earn legal safety certification through either www.snowmobilecourse.com or www.snowmobile-ed.com. Both courses are administered by private companies, and do charge a fee to take the course.
Basic safety tips for safe snowmobiling:
Never consume alcohol before or during a ride