As the Midwest prepares for the depths of the coldest season, thoughts of outdoor activities chill and thrill the senses. After all, what’s a better backdrop for winter sports than silver skies, icy trees, and a thick blanket of snow? Of course, that’s also the perfect atmosphere for snowmobiling fun. Barreling down a powdered hill as the wind whips your skin can seem like heaven even when it’s more of a comedy of errors. Dozens of hilarious snowmobiling fail video compilations can be found online to prove just how fun and funny the activity can be. But there’s a darker side as well. Not everyone jumps up unscathed after such a tumble. Fortunately, a few proper snowmobile rider safety measures can go a long way to ensure everyone makes it home in one piece.
Maintain Proper Machine Maintenance
Just like any well-used vehicle, your snowmobile must be in peak running condition before taking it out on the snow. Consult one or both of two guides to achieve this task: Your vehicle’s owner’s manual and the dealer. Both can help you replace proper fluids, belts, and various parts to maintain and keep your vehicle safe through the season, so the experience remains a fun one for everyone involved.
Always Dress Appropriately
Snowmobiling may be a fast-paced, thrill-a-minute experience, but it’s still an outdoor one. Even if it feels mild and you believe you’ll be just fine in light apparel, but that’s likely to change while whizzing across the snow and ice at speeds up to and exceeding 90 miles per hour. Be sure to dress in layers, including a windproof layer. After all, those are easily removable if the sun suddenly comes out of sweat builds up. Wear insulated boots and gloves or mittens to keep skin protected. Always make sure everyone on board is wearing a properly fitting helmet. And don’t forget goggles to keep sun glare and potential flying debris from causing vision issues.
Beware of Ice and Water and Never Go Alone
Sliding on the ice at high speed may seem like a wondrous thrill, but it can easily be the last one you ever have. Ice on lakes and rivers may look solid, but conditions are never guaranteed. Warm spots and deep drops combine to create a fatal flaw in your winter fun. Conditions can also change quickly. A 600-pound vehicle going over 90 mph ensures drowning as one of the top causes of snowmobile fatalities. And bring a friend or loved one along for the ride. Not only can they add an extra element of fun and help remind you not to act rashly, but they can provide necessary emergency backup in the event you do.
Don’t Drink and Ride
Snowmobiling is one of the most enjoyable winter activities for many, but it requires the driver to remain alert, be attentive, and always stay cautious. Injuries and fatalities are common in any fast-paced vehicle-related activity but especially when combined with recklessness and alcohol use as it slows reaction time and impairs judgment. And yet, research has shown that alcohol has been involved in 20-40% of snowmobile fatalities. That’s too significant to ignore. So avoid packing the cans or bottles for the outing and if you must drink, do so at home afterward. It just might help you avoid an unexpected call to your Michigan personal injury attorney.