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Safe Snowmobiling
4/13/2010 1:41:44 PM

Safe Snowmobiling
Owning and operating a snowmobile
Snowmobiling is an immensely popular winter activity in Ontario. Whether you are a beginner or you have participated in this recreational activity for a number of years, knowledge of how to operate your vehicle safely is imperative to ensure an enjoyable ride both on and off the trail. The following highlights what you need to know to own and drive a snowmobile safely.

Make It A Safe Ride...
Obey speed limits and road/trail signs and always drive within your ability. Reduce your speed when driving at night and watch out for fences, guide wires and other objects that are more difficult to spot at night.

Avoid driving on frozen lakes and rivers. If it can't be avoided, check ice conditions beforehand. Wear a buoyant snowmobile suit. Carry ice picks and make sure they are accessible.

Tell someone of your outing; including where you are going, the route, description of your snowmobile and your expected time of return.

Never travel alone - always with a friend. Always be prepared for the unexpected.

Exercise caution at road and rail crossings.

Never drive impaired. Alcohol, illegal drugs, even prescription and some over-the-counter drugs can slow your reaction time and affect your ability to make good decisions. If convicted of impaired driving on a snowmobile, you will lose your driving privileges for all types of vehicles, including motor vehicles, commercial vehicles and motorcycles.

Use appropriate hand signals when driving with others before stopping, slowing down or turning. Exercise caution on corners and hills, and always remain on the right-hand side of the trail.

Never ride on private property without permission of the land owner.

Dress appropriately. Wear clothing in layers and always carry extra dry clothing with you.

Carry a survival kit that includes: first aid kit; trail map and compass; matches or lighter in waterproof container; knife, saw or axe; flashlight and whistle; high energy food such as nuts or granola bars; and a mechanical kit that includes: spare spark plug and drive belt; tow rope; extra ignition key; screwdriver, wrenches and hammer; plus the owner's manual.

Check the weather forecast before heading out. Contact the local snowmobile club to find out current trail and ice conditions.

Drinking and Snowmobiling
It is against the law to drive a snowmobile while impaired by alcohol or drugs.

If a snowmobile driver is impaired or has a BAC of more than 0.08, or fails/refuses to comply with alcohol or drug testing, his/her driver licence will be suspended immediately for 90 days and the police can lay an impaired driving charge under the Criminal Code of Canada.

Individuals convicted of impaired driving on a snowmobile will lose their driving privileges (including their privilege to drive a car) for a minimum of one year.

Helmets
Everyone who drives or rides on a snowmobile requires a helmet that meets the standards approved for motorcycle helmets. Everyone who rides on a cutter, sled or similar device towed by a snowmobile must also wear a helmet.

Towing
A rigid tow-bar must be used when towing a sled or similar device behind a snowmobile.

Where to Ride
YES:

your own property
private trails belonging to organizations of which you are a member
private property with the owner's permission
between the shoulder and fence line (not on the shoulder) along public roads, except where prohibited (check with a municipality on by-laws for roads within its boundaries)
NO:

certain high-speed roads, including 400 series highways, the Queen Elizabeth Way (QEW), Ottawa Queensway and Kitchener-Waterloo Expressway
the travelled portion (from shoulder to shoulder) of a public road, except when crossing at a 90-degree angle
Speed Limits
50 km/h - on snowmobile trails
20 km/h - on roads where the speed limit is 50 km/h or less
50 km/h - on roads where the speed limit is over 50 km/h

 

Prepare for the Conditions
Night Riding
Drive at a reduced speed and avoid travelling faster than the beam of your headlight can shine ahead. Riding at night reduces your visibility and your ability to spot hazards that may be ahead. It also reduces your ability to estimate distances. Wear clothing that has reflective markings so that you are more visible at night.

Riding on Ice
Avoid travelling on frozen lakes, rivers and ponds. Many fatalities involve snowmobiles breaking through the ice or driving into open water. Anytime you travel on ice, you put yourself and your passengers at risk. If travelling on ice cannot be avoided, always be sure to check the conditions before-hand as conditions can change in a matter of hours. A buoyant snowmobile suit is recommended when travelling on frozen lakes or rivers. Carry ice picks with you and make sure they are accessible. Remember, your stopping distance will greatly increase when travelling on ice. Always travel on ice that is new, hard and clear. Never travel on ice that is slushy, weak, near moving water or has thawed and refrozen.

Wind and Cold
Wear layers of clothing. This enables you to add or remove clothing in order to adapt to changing conditions. A windproof outer layer (snowmobile suit), warm mitts/gloves, warm boots and insulated helmet are recommended. Thermal layers will allow your body to retain heat while releasing moisture. Remember, exposure to extreme cold can lead to frostbite and hypothermia. Body temperature can be affected by outside air temperature and wind speed. For example: risk of frostbite to exposed skin with a wind chill at or below -25°C; frostbite possible in 10 minutes to warm skin with a wind chill at or below -35°C, shorter if skin is cool; and, frostbite possible in less than 2 minutes with a wind chill at or below -60°C, shorter if skin is cool. Remember, too, that alcohol can also lower your body temperature, which in turn increases the risk of hypothermia.

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