You wake up to a fresh coat of snow and can hardly wait to take your sled out and hit the trails. But before you do, it’s essential to be clear on snowmobile safety tips, regardless of how experienced you are as a rider.
And don’t head out on your machine until you make sure you have sufficient insurance coverage. Contact a friendly team member at Lake Region Insurance Agency today for a free review and quote. As independent agents, we search for the best policies to meet your needs.
Seven Crucial Snowmobile Safety Tips
No matter how many years you’ve been enjoying the thrill of snowmobiling, you should review safety tips every year. Look over these pointers to stay safe on the trails.
1. Do the Pre-Trip Work
Plan your trip by checking weather forecasts, reading up on trail conditions, and letting someone know your itinerary. Never take off to ride the trails without telling someone where you plan to go and when you anticipate coming back.
Make sure your gear is in good shape and ready to protect you. The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) recommends always wearing a DOT helmet and facemask. Do not skip these crucial pieces.
Any time you are out in winter weather, wear multiple clothing layers to keep warm and dry. Choose snowmobile suits (they are named this for a reason), outerwear, and gloves that are wind and water-resistant and ventilated.
Charge your cell phone fully and bring a portable charger with you. Cell phone battery life will drain quickly in the cold, so keep your phone zipped into an inside pocket.
Look over your snowmobile equipment to make sure everything is in working order. Check your headlights, backlights, brakes, and gas supply. Owners should always consult their machine manuals and guides before operating them.
2. Take Weather Warnings Seriously
Weather is unpredictable, but checking the anticipated conditions will help you plan wisely. High winds after a snowfall can reduce visibility and require lower speeds on your ride. Warming temperatures may cause fog or melting, slippery ice.
If the weather forecast calls for unsafe conditions, stay home. No ride is worth the risk of getting lost or hurt due to weather issues. Here are some Minnesota DNR resources to check trail conditions and trail maps.
3. No Drugs or Alcohol
One of the most critical snowmobile safety tips is never to use alcohol or drugs when you ride. Never. Sadly, more than 70% of Minnesota snowmobile fatalities involve alcohol, so zero alcohol is the only right choice.
In many states, drunk driving laws apply to those operating snowmobiles. If you drive your snowmobile while impaired, you face significant consequences.
4. Watch Your Speed and Your Group
Riding too fast is a major factor in snowmobile accidents. Pay attention to your speed and stay to the right, especially on hills and curves. Don’t go faster than your skills can support. For night riding, don’t exceed 40 mph.
If you’re riding with a group, stay at a pace everyone can handle. If needed, break into beginner and advanced groups to be safe. Also, be sure you all know the correct snowmobile hand signals. Take a safety course or read up at ISMA to help ensure the group’s safety.
Know where your group is at all times. The lead rider should let all the others pass before crossing an intersection and count everyone as they go by.
Plan check-in stops to do a headcount and make sure equipment is performing correctly. Take a break to stretch and allow everyone to feel refreshed and alert.
5. Know the Rules
The International Snowmobile Manufacturers Association (ISMA) reminds you to know your riding area’s regulations. Sled registration and use vary in different regions, so be sure you are clear on the rules.
Consult with local DNR or law enforcement agencies to learn the proper codes, guidelines, and children’s restrictions. Local snowmobile clubs also are a fantastic resource for this information.
5. Be Cautious Around Bodies of Water
Whenever possible, stay off frozen lakes and rivers. If you choose to go over water, make sure the ice thickness can support snowmobile use. And always wear a life jacket on your outermost layer when crossing a frozen lake or river.
6. Follow Traffic Protocols
When approaching a road, come to a complete stop. Once you are sure there is no oncoming traffic, cross at a right angle. Each sled in your group needs to follow the same practice.
If you encounter other snowmobile traffic on the trail, never drive around a group without them signaling you to do so. A startled driver could turn right into you. And only pass if there is ample room.
7. Riding in the Mountains
Mountain snowmobiling is vastly different than riding on Minnesota trails. Take the time to educate yourself about avalanche safety, equipment, and practices. The ISMA has an entire section devoted to avalanche awareness.
Consider taking a class to learn about avalanche warnings, best riding practices, and what to do if caught in an avalanche.
8. After the Ride
Make sure your whole group is in and sleds are off before dismounting. A child hopping off the back while another rider pulls up could be disastrous. Apply this same practice to any stops along the ride.
Check in with whoever knew your itinerary to let them know you are back safely. Look over your snowmobile to assess any damage and store it properly before the next ride.
Snowmobile season is a favorite for many outdoor enthusiasts. Being out in the fresh winter air with family and friends is something sledders think about all summer. Keep those memories untarnished by practicing these crucial snowmobile safety tips.
Insure to Ensure a Peaceful Ride
Lake Region Insurance Agency is proud to be part of the Greater Minnesota community. And we understand the love of hitting the trails.
We also understand the importance of having adequate coverage to protect you if problems arise. Snowmobile insurance is not only a wise investment. It is required by law in many states. Call or visit one of our offices in Wilmar, New London, or Cokato, MN. Our expert team will help you select the best coverage possible.