Did you know? There are over 230,000 miles of snowmobile trails in the United States and Canada combined. As the snow begins to fall, riders begin to prepare for a hectic season on the trails. But before you pack up and go out, it's important to put your snowmobile safety first.
Equip yourself for the snowmobile season with these 15 snowmobile safety tips:
- Take a snowmobile safety course. Refresh yourself on the rules of the trails to protect yourself and other riders. Learn important hand signals, the importance of track signs, how to use your machine, avoid hazards and more.
- Follow the service schedule. Make sure your snowmobile is serviced and ready before you go. Keep track of routine repairs and maintenance such as checking the chain housing oil, battery, headlights and brake pads.
- Wear a helmet. Find one that meets US Department of Transportation standards and fits you properly, not too loose or too tight. Wear it every time you ride.
- Dress the part. Dress with winter stockings, warm gloves, waterproof boots and a windproof jacket. If your helmet does not have a shield, consider wearing anti-fog snowmobile goggles to protect your eyes and help you see clearly.
- Watch the weather. To use your snowmobile, you need snow and cold … just not too much of any of them. Be aware of storms, snowstorms and other threatening weather conditions.
- Take your smartphone. Should you encounter an emergency or get lost on the trip, you can use it to call for help and share your coordinates.
- Stick to the speed limit. If there is a specified speed limit, follow it. Otherwise, keep the speed reasonable enough to give yourself time to react to terrain changes, other riders, obstacles and animal encounters. A safe speed to travel with a snowmobile, especially at night, is about 40 mph.
- Keep the lights on. If you cycle during or after snowfall, brush the snow away from the headlights so you can see and be seen.
- Estimate your route. Always look over the route in advance and see where you are cycling. Look out for obstacles such as tree stumps, fences, ditches and low hanging wires.
- Stay away from the streets. Marked snowmobile trails are the safest places to go.
- Avoid riding on frozen lakes and rivers. Masses of water that seem frozen may not be solid enough to carry the weight of your vehicle all the way to the other side. If you do not know that a lake or river is approved for riding, do not cross it.
- Do not drink and ride. Alcohol not only slows down your reaction time and changes your perception, it also makes you more vulnerable to hypothermia.
- Ride with others. Stay safer by traveling with a passenger and / or a group. Should your snowmobile break or get stuck in the snow, another set of hands and machines may come in handy.
- Warn others about where you are going. If you are traveling alone, tell someone where to go and when they can expect you to return.
- Insure your snowmobile. If something happened to your snowmobile, or if you may have injured someone or damaged property, your insurance can help protect you from financial burden.
Not sure if you have the protection you need? Talk to one of our local, independent agents.