MADISON, Wis. – With winter fast approaching, the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is reminding snowmobilers to ride safely.
Wisconsin continues to offer some of the best snowmobiling opportunities around, especially in the northern part of the state. With more than 200,000 registered snowmobiles hitting the state’s 25,000 miles of groomed trails across the state each winter, safety is a critical part of the ride.
Snowmobiling got off to a deadly start at the beginning of the year. There were 19 snowmobile fatalities between January and March 2020, with three of those involving someone under the age of 18. As the snow begins to fly again, it’s important to think smart before you start.
“We’re fortunate to have access to incredible winter recreation opportunities across Wisconsin,” said DNR Conservation Warden Lt. Martin Stone. “But we have to remember to stay safe. Alcohol, excess speed, driver inexperience and operator error are the leading causes of snowmobile fatalities, so make sure to brush up on these safety rules and regulations before you head out this winter.”
Winter’s fluctuating temperatures, snowfalls and snowmelts have made for often-changing terrain and mixed conditions on snowmobile trails. The DNR does not monitor conditions and suggests snowmobilers contact local fishing clubs, snowmobile clubs or outfitters to inquire about the ice conditions.
The DNR reminds the public that any person who is at least 12 years old and who is born on or after Jan. 1, 1985 is required to have a valid Snowmobile Safety Certificate in order to operate a snowmobile in most areas. Operators must carry the certificate while riding and display it to a law enforcement officer when requested. View more snowmobile regulations here.
Ensure a safe and enjoyable season by following these tips:
ON THE TRAILS
- Don’t drink and ride.
- Stay on marked trails and routes.
- Always wear your helmet and safety gear.
- Slow down and use extra caution at night.
- Travel with a friend, carry a cell phone and let people know where you are going and when you’ll return home.
- Dress appropriately, carry a first aid kit and navigation tools.
- Take a snowmobile safety course. Visit the DNR Safety Education webpage for details and to locate a class or take an online course.
- Remember that ice is never completely safe under any conditions.
- Contact local sport shops to ask about ice conditions locally on the lake or river you want to traverse.
- Wear proper clothing and equipment, including a life jacket or a float coat to help you stay afloat and to help slow body heat loss.
- Do not travel in unfamiliar areas.
- Slow down when traveling at night.
- Know if the lake has inlets, outlets or narrows that have currents that can thin the ice.
- Watch out for pressure ridges or ice heaves. These can be dangerous due to thin ice and open water.
For additional information on snowmobile safety classes, regulations, safety tips or to register your snowmobile, click here. The DNR wishes all winter recreationalists a safe and enjoyable ride.