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Blog Articles: The 12 Most Important Snowmobile Safety Tips


Snowmobiling has become one of the most popular sports in North America.

 Snowmobile accidents are on the rise, up more than 50% in Ontario, resulting in 14 deaths last winter.

 The two most common causes of accidents were high speeds and alcohol use while on the vehicles.

 Here are our top snowmobile safety tips to keep you safe and having fun while snowmobiling:The 12 Most Important Snowmobile Safety Tips

Know The Laws


You don’t hop into a car at 16 and drive off the lot. There are laws and tests you must adhere to and pass before you can drive.


Snowmobiling is fun but, you are still driving a large and deadly piece of equipment.


To remain safe you must be aware of the snowmobiling laws in your area.


Check if you need to get a special license or certification before getting on a machine. Not only is this safe for you but it keeps everyone else safe as well.



Take A Snowmobile Safety Class


One of the best ways to learn the laws in your area and make sure you are ready to ride is to take a snowmobile safety class.


These classes will teach you everything you need to know and teach you local regulations.


They will also provide you with any certifications or licenses you would need to jump on the slopes.


Learning the rules of snowmobile safety before hand gives you the ability to practice before your ride. Better to over prepare than getting hurt.



The Buddy System


Never ride your machine alone.


Riders in groups are always safer than those riding solo. Use the buddy system when in larger groups so there are two people looking out for each other as their priority.


Plan out your routes in advance so you can leave a map with your loved ones at home. This will make it much easier to find you if you end up stuck out on the trails.



Hand Signals


Using hand signals can be much easier than trying to yell over the motor and blustery winter winds.


Learning a few hand signals before going out on the trails can keep everyone in your group safer:


  • Stopping – Put your left arm straight up in the air over your head; keep your palm flat.


  • Left Turn – Put your left arm straight out so it’s in line with your shoulder. Your arm should be pointing straight out in the direction of the turn.


  • Right Turn – Bend your left arm and raise it to shoulder height. Extend your forearm up into the air with your palm flat


  • Slowing Down – Put your left arm out and down. Move your hand in a downward flapping motion towards your machine.



Dealing with Frozen Water


Frozen water is the next most common reason for snowmobile accidents. The leading cause of death while snowmobiling is drowning.


Judging an unfamiliar body of water can mean life or death to a snowmobiler.


Some tips to figure out if ice is safe:


  • Recognize that ice is never 100% safe. Ice is always a risk and it is a safer idea to go around.


  • Safety of ice is dependent on many factors, not one:
    • Appearance: Color, Texture, Features
    • Thickness
    • The Temperature Outside
    • Snow Coverage
    • Depth of the Water Under the Ice
    • Size of the Body of Water
    • Chemical Composition – Fresh or Saltwater?
    • Local Temperature Fluctuations
    • Extent of the Ice


  • Ask the Locals – If you’re visiting a new area ask the people who snowmobile here a lot what you should avoid


  • Avoid the Ice if you Observe Any of These:
    • Flowing water near the edges
    • Cracks, breaks, or holes
    • Uneven surfaces


  • A rhyme to remember “Thick and Blue, Tried and True; Thin and Crispy, Way Too Risky”



Snowmobile Maintenance


Maintaining your machine is one of the most important things for snowmobile safety.


Maintenance will be different depending on the machine you are riding. The needs of a Mountain machine will be different from a short track machine for instance.


Always keep the rails clean and make sure there is gas in the tank.


Make sure to read your guide that comes with the machine. If you are unsure how to maintain your machine, contact a trusted local snowmobile dealer.


At the beginning of the season schedule a service appointment with your local dealer. They will be able to give you a tune-up and make sure you are in good shape to have fun.



Safety Gear


Always wear on a snowmobile:


  • Helmet (Full Face)


  • Goggles or Face Shield (If no full face helmet)


  • Gloves


  • Clothes Appropriate for The Weather
    • Choose polyester blends that wick moisture away from the body
    • Avoid cotton as it will freeze when it becomes wet
    • Make sure your socks are not cotton either


  • Heavy Boots


You should also keep a snowmobile safety kit on hand that includes items such as:


  • First Aid Kit


  • Basic Repair Kit
    • Spare Belt
    • Spark Plugs
    • Manufacturer’s Tool Kit
    • Nuts & Bolts That Fit Your Machine
    • Tow Rope
    • Pry Bar
    • Duct Tape
    • Wire Jack Knife


  • GPS


  • Small Shovel


  • Flares


  • Ice Pick



Using Motorcyclist’s Precautions


You can use the same precautions a driver of a motorcycle would use for snowmobile safety:


  • Scan your entire field of vision often
    • Letting your eyes focus on one point too long can be dangerous


  • Identify potential hazards in advance by looking ahead and around


  • Expect the worst at all times
    • Expect an animal jumping out from the woods
    • Assume the snowmobiler driving towards you will not move


  • Decide your plan of action before the hazards are too close to you


  • Execute the plan



Nighttime Riding


Riding at night can be the most dangerous; it also can be the most fun.


Take extra precautions for your night ride.


  • Make sure all your lights are working


  • Reduce your speed after dark


  • Safest to stick to the marked trails


  • Avoid ice at night if possible


  • Be prepared to stop at any moment; Nighttime is especially known for wildlife to surprise you.


  • Keep in mind your headlights will only illuminate the 200 feet in front of your snowmobile. Driving faster makes this even less. Drive slow at night!


Be extra cautious during rides at night and you’ll do fine.



Drinking and Snowmobiling


Drinking is the most probable cause of every snowmobile accident.


Make sure any drinking takes place in a safe campsite you have made along the trails. Remember that each drink you take requires an hour to process through your system. Drink plenty of water to make sure you’re staying hydrated.


Better yet, don’t drink anything until you’re safe back at your cabin after the ride.


Drinking impairs your judgment. Drinking also makes it much easier to make bad decisions.


Driving a snowmobile under the influence of alcohol is not only unsafe but illegal. It is the number one cause of snowmobile accidents and makes everyone on the trail unsafe.


Best bet? Leave the booze at home when you hit the trails!



Stretching and Physical Health


Snowmobiling requires stamina, flexibility, and strength.


Stretch beforehand.


Make sure you are well fed and hydrated.


Strength and core training can help to keep you safe on the ride.


Core training helps the balance you need for shifting from rut to rut in the trail.


Core strength also assists in sharp turns. You are often required to use your whole body weight to turn not only the handlebars.



Respect Nature and Trailways


To keep everyone safe on the trails you must respect them.


Make sure to clean up after yourself. Never leave any trash in the trails or surrounding environment.


Also, respect the wildlife allowing you to ride through their homes. Avoid going off trail in zones that may be breeding grounds for different animals.


Keep an eye out for signs of wildlife in the area and be cautious in those areas.



Having Fun While Staying Safe


Snowmobiles are a blast to ride and a fun way to spend time with friends and family out in nature.


You can see beautiful vistas and breathe the fresh crisp air.


Use common sense and these snowmobile safety tips to enjoy the ride and make it home.


Remember, the most important of these tips is not to drink and ride. It not only makes you way more likely to get in an accident but makes the trail safer for everyone around you.


Always carry a snowmobile safety kit that contains a first aid kit, your manufacturer’s toolkit, and some spare parts. You always want to prepare for a breakdown or minor injury.


When you approach frozen water go through your tests to make sure it’s safe. Look at the ice for any inconsistencies and that blue color. Take note if the weather was warm this morning and became colder in the afternoon, it could be unstable. You can always use the rhyme “Thick and Blue, Tried and True; Thin and Crispy, Much Too Risky”.


Always wear protective gear.


Maintain the safety laws and regulations for snowmobiling in your area.


Following these snowmobiling safety tips can be the difference between life and death on the trails.

Information from:

2023-04-24 14:22:36