Now that the snow is finally falling across the region, Minnesotans are tuning up their snowmobiles and heading out on the trails. Before they enjoy this late winter weather, however, safety advocates and St. Paul snowmobile accident attorneys want to remind them of a few snowmobile safety tips.
State snowmobile registrations topped a quarter of a million in 2010. That same year, there were almost half a million certified snowmobile students. With the swell in registrations and certifications, however, there was also an increase in fatalities: 19 snowmobile deaths in 2010, the most since 2007. There were also 161 snowmobile-related injuries in Minnesota in 2010.
There are several safety steps riders can take to avoid contributing to Minnesota’s snowmobile injury and fatality statistics.
Before Hitting the Trails
The very first thing a rider should do is get safety certified. Minnesota requires all snowmobile riders born after December 31, 1976, to obtain a snowmobile safety certificate. The state runs snowmobile safety courses for adults and children.
Before setting out for the day, be sure to check current and predicted weather conditions. Though the state encourages riders to stay off ice whatever the conditions, if riding on ice is unavoidable, be sure to check ice conditions and wear flotation devices while you ride.
Of course, all drivers should ensure they are sober before they operate a snowmobile and postpone their ride until they are able to safely operate the vehicle.
While on the Trail
During a snowmobile ride, operators should abide by the 50 mile-per-hour speed limit required by Minnesota law and adjust their speed according to conditions, including bad weather and night riding. Snowmobile riders should stay on designated snowmobile trails to avoid incidents with road vehicles and, for the same reason, avoid riding on state highways and their surrounding areas, like medians.
No one should ever ride alone, since a snowmobile accident could render someone unconscious or otherwise unable to call for help. If a rider is involved in a snowmobile accident, be sure to call 911 if the injury is severe and seek appropriate medical attention.
If you are involved in a Minnesota snowmobile accident and you suspect that someone else’s negligence has caused the accident, you may be entitled to compensation for medical costs and other damage. You may be able to hold a snowmobile company liable for equipment malfunction or another driver accountable for his or her poor decisions. A personal injury attorney experienced in snowmobile accidents can help you determine what caused your accident and whether you can bring a personal injury claim.