The snowmobile was invented as a way to move people and supplies in areas where a lot of snow prohibited the use of conventional vehicles. Snowmobiling is now a popular North American winter sport pursued by more than two million people annually. Today’s snowmobiles are heavy, weighing in at more than 600 pounds with the ability to travel faster than 90 miles per hour. Sadly, each year more than 200 people die and 14,000 people are injured in a snowmobiling accident.

Common causes of snowmobiling accidents include obstacles in the terrain, falling through ice, speeding, intoxication, poor judgment, and lack of experience. The most common snowmobiling injuries are fractures to the body’s extremities such as legs and arms but head trauma also occurs frequently and is the leading cause of snowmobiling accident deaths.

Due to the potential dangers in snowmobiling, many states have enacted laws and regulations to govern their use. All 50 states have set a minimum age to operate a snowmobile, which differs depending on whether adult supervision is present. Most states also require snowmobiles to be registered and many states require or recommend that snowmobile riders to take a safety course before use.

Top 5 Snowmobile Safety Tips

Snowmobiling anywhere can be risky but if you are venturing out on a frozen lake, you should be extra cautious. The majority of serious snowmobile accidents happen on frozen lakes.

Use these safety tips to stay safe:

1. Don’t ride while intoxicated
Riding while intoxicated is just as dangerous as driving while intoxicated. If you are intoxicated your judgment is impaired and could cause you to take a turn too fast, miss an obstacle in your path, crash into other riders, or miss warning signs of wet spots on a frozen lake.

2. Drive at a reasonable speed (slow down)
Especially while riding in the dark, it is best to slow down and ride at a reasonable speed. Obstacles can present themselves quickly.

3. Check the condition of the ice on a frozen lake
While there is no exact way to know that a frozen lake is really safe, it is important to know that snowmobiling needs five inches of clear, solid ice. Ask for the help of a trusted source such as a local bait shop to check the thickness of the ice.

4. Don’t ride alone
Always ride with a friend and let one or two other people know where you will be riding.

5. Be prepared if you do fall through the ice
If the worst case scenario happens and you or your friend fall through the ice, you will want to be prepared with knowledge about pulling yourself out.

If you or a loved one were injured in an accident, you have enough to deal with. Let an experienced accident attorney fight for the full compensation that you deserve. It is not uncommon to receive a settlement from the insurance company that is five to ten times bigger with the help of a lawyer. Call the caring accident attorneys at Tario & Associates, P.S. in Bellingham, WA today for a FREE consultation! We have been representing residents of Whatcom County, Skagit County, Island County and Snohomish County since 1979. You will pay nothing up front and no attorney fees at all unless we recover damages for you!