Snowmobilers reminded to ride responsibly when out
Wisconsin offers 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 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 starting.
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.
Riders can ensure a safe and enjoyable season by using the following tips: • Don’t drink and ride.
• Stay on marked trails and routes.
• Always wear a 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 traveling and when expected to return home.
• Dress appropriately, carry a first-aid kit and navigation tools.
• Take a snowmobile safety 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 planned to traverse.
• Wear proper clothing and equipment, including a life jacket or a float coat, to help 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, because of thin ice and open water.
For more information on snowmobile safety classes, regulations, safety tips or to register a snowmobile, visit dnr.gov.