MN DNR: Drive safely this snowmobile season

As Minnesota’s snowmobile season begins, conservation officers
from the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) remind snowmobile
operators to drive safely and to drive smart.

“They need to contain their enthusiasm for that first ride and get
this season off to a smooth, safe start,” said Lt. Leland Owens,
DNR recreational vehicle coordinator. “Drivers should also be aware
of potential hazards and use good judgment.”

To legally ride a snowmobile in Minnesota, residents born after
Dec. 31, 1976, need a valid snowmobile safety certificate. There
are two ways to do this. First, the traditional classroom course
taught in local communities by volunteers is available for anyone
11 or older. Second, a DNR adult or youth Snowmobile Safety CD-ROM
for PC or MAC is available for those 16 or older. “People can learn
from the comfort of home, fill out the exam, and send in results to
be officially certified. It’s as easy as that,” Owens said.

The CD-ROM course for those 16 and older is available from the DNR
Information Center by calling 651-296-6157 or toll-free
888-646-6367 and by e-mail at .

In addition to safety training requirements, snowmobilers
should follow these DNR safety tips:

DON’T DRINK – Drinking and driving can be fatal. Drinking alcohol
before or during snowmobiling can impair judgment and slow reaction
time. Snowmobilers who have been drinking may drive too fast or
race across unsafe ice.

SLOW DOWN – Speed is a contributing factor in nearly all fatal
snowmobiling accidents. Drivers should travel at a pace that allows
ample reaction time. When driving at night, a speed of 40 miles an
hour or higher often results in “overdriving” headlight
illumination.

BE PREPARED – Bring a first aid kit, a flashlight, waterproof
matches and a compass.

STAY ALERT – Fatigue can reduce a driver’s coordination and
judgment.

ICE ADVICE – Avoid traveling across bodies of water when uncertain
of ice thickness and strength. Snow cover can act as a blanket and
prevent safe ice from forming. Never travel in single file when
crossing bodies of water.

DRESS FOR SUCCESS – Use a full-size helmet, goggles or face shield
to prevent injuries from twigs, stones, ice and flying debris.
Clothing should be worn in layers and should be just snug enough so
that no loose ends catch in the machine.

WATCH THE WEATHER – Rapid weather changes can produce dangerous
conditions.

BRING A BUDDY – Never travel alone. Most snowmobile accidents
result in some personal injury, which is particularly dangerous if
alone. If traveling alone, tell someone about the destination,
planned route and expected time of return.

REPORT ACCIDENTS – The operator of a snowmobile involved in an
accident resulting in medical attention, hospitalization, death or
damage exceeding $500 must file a written report with the DNR. If
the operator is killed or is unable to file a report due to
incapacitation, any peace officer investigating the accident can
file the accident report within 10 business days.

 

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