Posted Online: Dec. 28, 2012, 2:27 pm
Think safety as snowmobile season begins in Illinois
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Press release submitted byChris McCloud
SPRINGFIELD – The Illinois Department of Natural Resources is reminding snowmobile
operators and riders to take extra caution this year when snow falls in Illinois. Every year
throughout the state, people are seriously injured or lose their lives on snowmobiles. Many of
these accidents could have been prevented had reasonable and proper precautions been taken.
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.
Last season (2011-2012) in Illinois, 11 reported snowmobile accidents resulted in 3 fatalities.
"It doesn't matter what your intentions are before you set out to ride. If you aren't prepared
and using common sense, accidents can happen," said Illinois Conservation Police Chief RafaelGutierrez. "Most snowmobile accidents or fatalities we see could have absolutely been preventedhad safety been practiced before and during the ride."
While IDNR encourages everyone to take a snowmobile safety class before their first ride of the
season, state law requires that persons at least 12 years of age and less than 16 years must have inpossession a valid Snowmobile Safety Education Certificate of Competency issued by IDNR inorder to operate a snowmobile alone.
While most of the traditional instructor led safety courses administered by the IDNR have taken
place this year, snowmobilers can also satisfy state safety requirements by taking one of two
online courses to become familiar with safe sledding practices or to refresh themselves on stayingsafe. Individuals can earn legal safety certification through either www.snowmobilecourse.comor www.snowmobile-ed.com. Both courses are administered by private companies and do chargea fee to take the course.
Basic safety tips for safe snowmobiling:
• Know your equipment and make sure that equipment is in proper working order.
• Wear sensible, 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 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 these 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.
•Travel at a reasonable rate of speed for your visibility conditions.
Snowmobile accidents/fatalities by year
Season --Reported Accidents --Fatalities
2007-2008 --66 accidents reported --7 fatals
2008-2009 -- 39 accidents reported --3 fatals
2009-2010 --37 accidents reported --1 fatal
2010-2011 -- 47 accidents reported --1 fatal
Last season --11 accidents reported --3 fatal
*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 these closures can result in a
minimum $75 fine and possible arrest. For a list of site offices please visit the IDNR website at