Urges Illinois Snowmobile Operators to Enjoy Recent Snowfall Safely
Snowmobile Fatalities in Illinois Up Significantly From Last Year
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[February 22, 2008]
SPRINGFIELD -- The Illinois
Department of Natural Resources is urging snowmobile enthusiasts to
use caution while snow cover remains. Snowmobiling fatalities have
increased significantly this winter, in part because snowmobile
operators have taken advantage of the number of recent snow events
and opportunities there have been to ride snowmobiles.
Above average snowfall this season has resulted in increased
snowmobile activity, especially in northern Illinois. As of Feb. 7,
there were 27 reported snowmobile accidents in Illinois during the
2007-2008 season, resulting in eight fatalities. Seven of the 27
reported accidents have been documented to have had alcohol as being
a factor, though some investigations are still pending.
Considerable snowfall near the end of the 2006-2007 snowmobile
season resulted in increased activity and an increased number of
accidents. Last year, three of the 19 reported snowmobile accidents
resulted in fatalities.
"Recent snow events throughout the state have created more
opportunities for people to use their snowmobiles in Illinois," said
IDNR Acting Director Sam Flood. "While snowmobiling can be an
enjoyable activity, it can also be a deadly one if the wrong
decisions are made."
In most instances, being alert, knowing the trail and traveling
at a reasonable rate of speed for trail conditions can prevent most
accidents. In North America, more than 50 percent of snowmobile
fatalities involve intoxicated operators.
While the Department of Natural Resources encourages everyone to
take a snowmobile safety class, state law requires that people at
least 12 years of age and less than 16 years must have in their
possession a valid Snowmobile Safety Education Certificate of
Competency issued by the department in order to operate a snowmobile
Current snowmobile safety education courses require students to
attend an eight-hour class where certified instructors teach basic
safety principles, maintenance, operation, winter survival,
regulations and a proper attitude of respect for the student's
fellow person and the environment.
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Basic safety tips for safe snowmobiling:
Know your equipment
and make sure the equipment is in proper working order.
protective clothing designed for snowmobiling, like a full-size
helmet, goggles or face shield to prevent injuries from twigs,
stones, ice chips and flying debris.
Avoid wearing long
scarves. They may get caught in moving parts of the snowmobile.
Know the terrain
you are going to ride. If the route is unfamiliar to you, ask
someone who has traveled over it before. Be aware of trails or
portions of trails that may be closed.
Drowning is one
cause of snowmobile fatalities. When not familiar with the
thickness of the ice or water currents, avoid those areas.
Know the weather
forecast and especially the ice and snow conditions in the area.
Always use the buddy system. Never ride
alone or unaccompanied.
For more snowmobile safety information, see
Reminder to riders and hikers: A minimum of 4 inches of snow
cover must be present for snowmobile use on state-managed property.
Please call ahead to site offices to get the latest snow conditions
and trail closures at individual sites. Ignoring trail closures can
result in a minimum $75 fine and possible arrest. For a list of site
Department of Natural Resources news release received from the
Illinois Office of Communication and Information]