Snowmobilers reminded to ride safely

Niagara Gazette, Niagara Falls, N.Y.
·3 min read

Feb. 20—With the recent snowfall, the New York State Park Police, State Police, Environmental Conservation Police Officers and Forest Rangers are reminding all snowmobile riders to make safety their priority in an effort to reduce the number of personal injury and fatal accidents throughout the state.

So far this season, there have been seven fatal snowmobile accidents, claiming eight lives.

Law enforcement officers will be out on the snowmobile trails enforcing state law with particular emphasis placed on snowmobiling while intoxicated, unsafe or reckless operation, and the enforcement of all speed limits, including the state's maximum speed of 55 mph.

"We make every effort to ensure a safe recreational snowmobile season for all riders. By knowing and following safety recommendations, riders can help ensure they have an enjoyable time on the trail," said Chief Mark VanWie of the State Park Police.

Acting State Police Superintendent Kevin P. Bruen added, "There is no excuse for operating any motorized vehicle or device while impaired, whether it be a vehicle or snowmobile. We want those who take advantage of the beautiful trails in our great state to enjoy them, but we also want them to do so safely. Don't operate impaired. Law enforcement will be doing our part to keep our trails safe for all. By making responsible and common sense choices, New Yorkers can do their part as well."

Recommendations for safe riding include:

—Prior to starting your ride, check over the snowmobile to make sure it is in good working order and carry emergency supplies.

—Always wear a helmet and make sure to wear the proper snowmobile gear including bibs, jackets, boots, and gloves.

—Always ride with a buddy or at least one other person.

—Ride responsibly and within your abilities.

—Always ride to the right side of the trail especially at hill crests and curves.

—Operate at a speed which is safe and prudent for the given conditions.

—Respect landowners, obey posted signs, and stay on the marked trail.

—Frozen bodies of water are not designated trails. If planning to ride on ice, proceed with caution and be aware of potential hazards under the snow. Consider wearing a snowmobile suit with flotation built-in and carry a set of ice picks as a precaution.

—Never drink alcohol or use drugs and ride.

Everyone operating a snowmobile should be familiar with safe riding practices and all applicable laws, rules, and regulations. The best way to learn is by taking a snowmobile safety course. To find a course, visit https://parks.ny.gov/recreation/snowmobiles/education.aspx. A safety certificate is required for youth between ages 10 and 18.

DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos said, "Snowmobiling continues to be one of New York state's most popular winter activities and we encourage outdoor enthusiasts to check out the abundant trails that are available close to home. In addition to the usual precautions for riding safely and following the rules, I join State Parks and State Police in reminding all people to wear masks, socially distance, and observe the other important guidelines to stop the spread of COVID-19."