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The Growing Risks Associated with Snowmobilling

Nov 8, 2007
With the growing popularity of snowmobiling and snowmobile racing, snowmobile crashes are an increased risk for operators. Snowmobile safety has become a high priority as snowmobile manufacturers and clubs focus on snowmobile safety and education.

The International Snowmobile Manufacturers Association (ISMA) is actively involved in a worldwide campaign to encourage snowmobile safety and safety training programs. However, laws governing snowmobile operation vary widely among different states, and generally, there are fewer restrictions and regulations for operation than for other motor vehicles, including all-terrain vehicles. Causes of Snowmobile Accidents

Speed is a contributing factor to most fatal snowmobile accidents. Driving too fast often occurs when alcohol is involved. Alcohol can not only impair judgment but can also cause hypothermia. Driving at night presents another hazard, since vision is limited. According to the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, most fatal snowmobile accidents happen between 8:00 p.m. and 3:00 a.m. Drowning is another leading cause of snowmobile fatalities.

Among children who are injured or killed in snowmobile crashes, about two-thirds of the fatal accidents are due to head and neck injuries, usually from striking a stationary object. For this reason, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children under 16 not be allowed to operate snowmobiles, and that all riders (drivers and passengers) be required to wear helmets. Snowmobile Safety

The most important snowmobile safety practices are:

* Maintain the snowmobile in top condition

* Wear appropriate gear including helmet and face shield or goggles; layers of clothing (water repellent); warm mitts or gloves; warm boots; windproof outer layer;

* Stay in control by knowing and staying within your own abilities and the abilities of the vehicle;

* Plan your route and tell someone else, including estimated time of arrival;

* Travel at a safe speed and be especially cautious at night -Avoid alcohol and drugs before and when driving;

* Ride with someone else and do not travel alone;

* Stay alert. Be aware of fatigue caused by the vibration and motion of the snowmobile and the sun and wind, all of which affect reaction time;

* Stay on marked trails;

* Cross roadways with care, stopping first before proceeding at a right angle to the road -Avoid crossing water (lakes or rivers);

* Carry a safety kit containing a first aid kit, flashlight, matches, tool kit, and compass;

* If traveling in the mountains, be aware of avalanche dangers;

When Snowmobile Accidents Happen

Most snowmobile crashes result in personal injury, which is why it is best to travel with someone else who may be able to help in the event of an accident. If your snowmobile goes through the ice, a snowmobile suit should keep you afloat for a few minutes. Pull up onto the ice and roll away from the hole, standing only when you are well away from the hole. Keep your mitts or gloves on.

If traveling in the mountains, which has the risk of avalanches, again be sure to have a partner. Carry rescue gear such as a beacon, radio, shovels, and probe poles for locating people who are buried in the snow. Dangers of Snowmobile Racing

Snowmobile racing is becoming increasing popular. The high speeds of snowmobile racing can result in loss of control and flipping of the vehicle and an increased the risk of striking objects or other snowmobiles. This means increased risk of personal injury. Manufacturer's Recall Alert

In 2006, a snowmobile recall occurred for about 3,600 snowmobiles sold in the United States and Canada. Snowmobile enthusiasts must be aware that snowmobiles, as with any vehicle are subject to mechanical defects that can result in injury or death. The snowmobile manufacturer for this recall is Bombardier Recreational Products (BRP) out of Quebec, Canada. BRP manufactured the 2005 and 2006 Ski-Doo models in which ring gears fragment at high speeds releasing high speed debris. This flying debris has caused injuries including lacerations and fractures.

If you have been injured in a snowmobile accident, you may have a legal case. Contact an experienced snowmobile accident attorney to determine whether you might be eligible for compensation.
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