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Safety Tips for Using Snowmobile in Minnesota

For many Minnesotans, snowmobile is an ideal way to enjoy the outdoor winter in the state. Riding a snowmobile is a great way to get out of the house and see the beautiful Minnesota winter landscape. When driving a snowmobile you have a duty to other people and yourself to ride your vehicle responsibly. By following these tips you can have fun in the snow with the confidence that you are operating your machine safely and responsibly.

Training – If you were born after December 31, 1976, Minnesota law requires you to get snowmobile certification to ride a snowmobile. However, even if you have been riding snowmobiles for years, you can still benefit from a safety course. It will reinforce what you already know, and you might learn something new. The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) offers affordable certification courses for youth and adults. Youth can take a traditional course or a CD-based course. Adults (age 16 and older) can either complete the DNR Adult Independent Study CD or take a youth course.

Planning – Before you leave, you should consult road and trail maps to plan your trip. This can help you estimate how much fuel you will need. It will also enable you to tell someone where you are going and how long you plan to be gone. It is also a good idea to know the skill level of the people who are riding with you so that you do not take a path that is beyond their ability to ride.

Dressing – All of the following items are essential to protect your body from wind chill, frost bite, and snowmobile crashes: appropriate under layers, socks and boots, snowmobile suite, helmet, face mask, eye protection and gloves.

Avoiding Alcohol or Other Intoxicants – Operating any sort of motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol is always dangerous and often fatal. In the last five years in Minnesota, snowmobile accidents caused 71 fatalities. Over half of those fatalities involved the use of alcohol. Never operate any sort of vehicle, including snowmobiles, under the influence of alcohol.

Avoiding Ice – Going on any icy surface on a snowmobile is always a bad idea. Ice provides much less traction than snow, increasing your risk of losing control of your vehicle. Furthermore, if you venture on a frozen body of water, you run the risk of drowning if you break through the ice because it can’t support the combined weight of you and your machine. If you must go on a frozen body of water, proceed with extreme caution and only if you are absolutely certain that the ice is thick enough for a snowmobile.

In case of Injury – If you take the right precautions, snowmobiling can be a safe, fun way to enjoy the Minnesota winter. Unfortunately, not everyone takes the care to operate a snowmobile safely. If you are injured in a snowmobile crash because someone else was negligent, you need to know your rights. It is never fun to sue someone, especially if you are injured by someone you know. However, a snowmobile crash can result in medical bills, lost wages, and even loss of life. If you cannot work because of a snowmobile accident, do not hesitate to contact a Minnesota personal injury attorney.

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