Snowmobiling Safety


More than 2.5 million snowmobiles will hit the open country of North America this winter. (1.5 million in the United States and 2 million in Canada). Commission staff have found that the majority of snowmobile accidents involved collisions with fixed or moving objects such as fence posts, barbed wire, trees, cars, and other snowmobiles. Last year, the National Safety Council recorded about 156 deaths associated with snowmobiles.

Fatalities have resulted from riding on thin ice, freezing when stranded after a breakdown, and decapitation by running through a barbed wire fence.

Contributing factors in accidents examined included excessive speed, product failure due to design or deterioration, darkness, bad weather, and the derring-do of some drivers.

According to the Commission’s Bureau of Epidemiology, injuries associated with snowmobiles are relatively severe and drivers make up the majority of those injured.

The Commission makes the following recommendations to snowmobilers:

  1. Follow local regulations and operation instructions.
  2. Become familiar with the particular model of snowmobile before driving. A number of accidents involved veteran drivers accustomed to a different make or model.
  3. Wear goggles, helmets with chin straps, and protective clothing.
  4. Inspect the entire machine, brakes, throttle control, lights, and emergency shut-off switch before departing. Never start without a full tank of gas.
  5. Take extra spark plugs, tools, a first aid kit, and other repair and survival supplies such as flares and matches.
  6. Know the terrain. Know where fences, gullies, and rocks may be hidden. Beware of open bodies of water and thin ice.
  7. Avoid driving at night and in bad weather. A single strand of barbed wire is hard to see.
  8. Remember that the loud noise generated by the snowmobile may prevent hearing approaching trains and cars. Be alert.
  9. On long trips, travel in groups. In case of emergencies, someone can go for help.
  10. Never drink intoxicating beverages and drive at the same time.
The above is an excerpt from the article, “CPSC Issures Safety Tips On Winter Sports.” For more information, please visit

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