Another snowmobile season is upon us, and the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is encouraging snowmobilers to get this season off to a smooth, safe start. "I want people to take advantage of the snowmobiling opportunities that exist in Minnesota," said Capt. Mike Hammer, DNR Enforcement education program coordinator. "However, this sport can also be very dangerous when safety rules are ignored."
DNR officials say riding snowmobiles can be an enjoyable form of outdoor recreation when you follow the rules of the road and trail:
- Take a safety training course. To legally ride a snowmobile, residents born after Dec. 31, 1976 need a valid snowmobile safety certificate.
Youth ages 11 -15 are eligible to complete the course. Certification becomes valid at age 12. A person may not operate a snowmobile on
a state or grant-in-aid snowmobile trail unless a snowmobile state trail sticker is affixed to the snowmobile.
- Maximum speed in Minnesota is 50 mph. Many times trail conditions or riding at night require slower speeds.
- Slow down, especially at night, over-riding your headlight is another major cause of accidents.
- Stay away from alcohol; it's a major factor in most accidents.
- Display current snowmobile registration.
- Be cautious of hidden dangers, especially when operating in a road right-of-way. This includes silt fences, soil stockpiles, pieces of unused concrete culverts, wooden survey stakes and steel right of way markers may remain during the winter months after construction activity ceases. Also, watch for sedimentation ponds, brush piles and scattered rocks and boulders that may be obscured by fallen snow.
- Stay off the roadway, shoulder, and slope of state and county highways.
- Operate your snowmobile in the same direction as highway traffic when riding one half hour after sunset to one-half hour before sunrise.
- Stay off the median of four-lane highways.
- Come to a complete stop and look both ways before crossing a public roadway.
- Cross public roadways at a 90-degree angle.
- Check local ordinances on when and where you may ride.
- Stay on marked trails; the future of our trail system depends on it.
- A person under the age of 14, without a snowmobile safety certificate, may operate a snowmobile when supervised or accompanied by a parent, legal guardian or other person 18 years of age or older designated by the parent or guardian.
- Remember, ice is never safe.
- Never ride alone.
- Make sure your machine is in proper operating condition.
- Join a snowmobile club.
For a copy of DNR's 2005-2006 Minnesota Snowmobile Safety Laws, Rules, and Regulations handbook, call (651) 296-6157 or 1-888-MINNDNR (646-6367).