snowmobilingOur part of the country has so much potential for winter sports and recreation, like snowmobiling.  Embraced by enthusiasts of all ages, snowmobiling is a fun way to get out and enjoy the outdoors during the cold winter months. As a result of its growing popularity, the number of snowmobile riders on public trails grows, and so does the number of accidents associated with riding. Wisconsin law requires that riders born after 1985 become certified to operate a snowmobile, and the DNR also recommends a safety course be taken. The personal injury lawyers at Hupy and Abraham think that, like motorcycles, safety is of the upmost importance when you hit the trails, and hope the following tips will help keep riders safe this winter.

Never drink and ride. Alcohol is a leading cause of snowmobile accidents and fatalities each year. Even a small amount of alcohol slows reaction times and impairs judgment. It is not uncommon for snowmobile riders to barhop while riding, but unfortunately an alarming number of riders that would never drive a car while intoxicated continue to ride their motorized sleds at dangerous speeds from bar to bar. Choose to be alcohol-free until your ride is over and you’re safely home.

Avoid traveling across bodies of water. Changing weather and flowing water in lakes, streams and ponds have an effect on the thickness and strength of ice. It becomes quite difficult for snowmobile riders to determine if the surface is solid, and a covering of snow can act as a blanket that prevents thick ice from forming. If you must cross a body of water, make sure you’re wearing a life jacket over your clothes in case your machine falls through the ice.

Stay on the trail or stay home. Always stay on designated snowmobile trails. Venturing off of designated trails can result in accidents. Trespassing is a major complaint about snowmobilers each season from landowners who don’t want rumbling sleds on their property, and can lead to trail closures. So, only ride on private property when you have the landowner’s permission, and make sure you stay away from their fences and low-hanging trees.

Do not ride alone. Always go out with a friend or riding buddy because if one machine breaks down, you have another to get help.  If you must travel by yourself, tell someone where you’re going, the route you’ll take and when you expect to return. You should also carry a fully charged cellphone. However, phone service is not always on riding trails, a SPOT satellite GPS messenger permits people at home to track your location and allows you to send an SOS message if you experience an emergency.

Prepare yourself for any situation. Riders should carry a toolkit, emergency/safety equipment and first-aid kit. A few essentials include a flashlight, knife, compass, map and waterproof matches. Always wear a helmet with goggles or a face shield to prevent facial injuries from twigs and flying debris. Dress for any situation with layers of water-repellent clothing with no loose ends that might catch in the machine or tangle in equipment.

Snowmobiling is a great way to have fun with friends and family, but sometimes accidents still happen regardless of the precautions we take. In the unfortunate event that you or a loved one are injured while snowmobiling this winter because of faulty equipment or another careless driver, please contact the expert personal injury attorneys at Hupy and Abraham at 800-800-5678 for a free consultation and the opportunity to receive the compensation you are entitled to. 

Jill Erin Wellskopf
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Director of Marketing, Hupy and Abraham