Poor behaviour was behind most of the 175 snowmobile-related deaths occurring between 2009 and 2019, according to a study released by the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP).
Alcohol was a factor in nearly half of the losses. However, excessive speeding, loss of control, and driving too quickly were also reoccurring issues, police said.
Moreover, 45 per cent of the fallen snowmobilers were driving on frozen lakes, rivers, or through open water at the time. The latter is known as puddle jumping, where snowmobile drivers traverse icy holes.
Avoid the risks
Educating yourself is the first step to safety. When you know the risks you know how to avoid them, police stated in a release.
“It is important to avoid all manner of risk while enjoying the thousands of kilometres of diverse, scenic snowmobile trails Ontario has to offer,” stated Vijay Thanigasalam, parliamentary assistant to the Minister of Transportation. “Maintain control of your snowmobile at all times and never take alcohol or drugs during your ride. Doing so keeps snowmobilers and their passengers safe.”
OFSC checks in
The Ontario Federation of Snowmobile Clubs (OFSC) is the voice for organized snowmobiling. The OFSC offers an interactive map to aid snowmobilers in keeping safe.
“Our interactive trail guide is an excellent tool for keeping snowmobilers well-informed about the status of trails throughout Ontario. The OFSC, in partnership with the OPP, is counting on all snowmobilers to take full responsibility for their own safety as well as the safety of their passengers, and fellow riders this season,” stated OFSC Director Andrew Walasek.
Safety week here
OPP’s data coincides with Snowmobile Safety Week. SSW runs from January 18 to 26. Riders are reminded to take care they are properly dressed and equipped prior to setting out.
Responsible driving includes checking weather prior to setting out, police added. Also, with the recent warm winter, it’s better to go on the side of caution before trusting frozen water.