The Madison County Sheriff’s Office in conjunction with the New York Department of Motor Vehicles are offering the following safety tips to ensure that everyone has a safe and enjoyable snowmobile season. Snowmobile riding can be fun activity for the whole family. New York State has some of the best trails in the country. Unfortunately, there has been a rise in snowmobile related accidents and fatalities. 58% of accidents involve riders within the ages of 19-40. Speed is a contributing factor in nearly all fatally snowmobile accidents. Most accidents continue to be collisions with fixed objects such as trees. Any snowmobile operated in New York State must be registered with the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV), even if it is registered in another state or province, except under certain special circumstances.
Safety tips to help you and others ride safely:
- Never drink and drive. Don’t mix riding with alcohol or drugs. A court can suspend the privilege of a person to operate a snowmobile if the person is convicted of snowmobiling under the influence of alcohol or drugs. The court can also suspend the snowmobile registration.
- Travel only in areas open to snowmobiling. A free statewide snowmobile trail map of the state-designated trail system is available by calling 518-474-0446.
- Travel at reasonable speeds. Drivers should proceed at a pace that will allow ample reaction time for any situation. Drive at moderate speeds, and drive defensively, especially after sunset.
- Wear safety gear. Wear a helmet, eye protection, and other safety gear. Since April 1, 1998, NYS has required each operator and passenger on a snowmobile to wear protective headgear approved by the Commissioner of the NYS Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation.
- Use caution at night. Wear reflective clothing and reduce your speed.
- Use the buddy system. Riding solo can leave you vulnerable if you have an accident or breakdown. Most snowmobile accidents result in personal injury. The most dangerous situations occur when a person is injured and alone. If you must travel alone, tell someone of your destination, planned route, and when you will return.
- Use common snowmobile safety. When climbing a hill, approach the summit with caution. Cross roadways at a 90-degree angle. Be aware of unmarked hazards or obstacles hidden beneath the snow. Ride single file, keep to the right and pass on the left only when the trail is clear. When stopping on the trail, pull your sled as far right and off the trail as possible.
Hopefully, with the above tips everyone can enjoy the fun and excitement of snowmobile riding.