More than 14,000 Americans are injured and 200 are killed each year while riding snowmobiles during the winter months.
Beware of Snowmobile Dangers
Snowmobiles create fun-filled outdoor activities, as well as reliable transportation in areas with cold winter climates and mountains of snow. More than two million Americans ride snowmobiles regularly during winter months to enjoy the outdoors and travel through snow-covered terrain.
Although snowmobiling is a popular winter activity, it poses significant dangers to riders due to the vehicle’s heavyweight, high speed, lack of structural protection, and ability to turn over and become airborne. During icy conditions and heavy snowfall with limited visibility, snowmobile accidents can cause severe injuries including broken bones, neck, back, and knee injuries, head trauma, traumatic brain injuries, long-term or permanent disabilities, and even death. Snowmobile injuries are commonly seen in areas where winters bring several feet of snow.
The International Snowmobile Manufacturers Association (ISMA) promotes snowmobile safety through training and prevention programs that teach riders how to avoid snowmobile accidents. Some suggestions are for riders to:
- Wear appropriate safety gear including a helmet, goggles or face shield, and layers of water repellent clothing such as a windproof outer layer, warm gloves, and warm, water repellent boots.
- Travel at a safe speed that permits control of the snowmobile, especially in heavy snowfall and after dark. ISMA reports that most fatal snowmobile accidents occur between the hours of 8:00 PM and 3:00 AM.
- Stay on marked trails and avoid frozen bodies of water. Cracks in the ice can result in snowmobile submersion, hypothermia, severe frostbite, and death. Drowning is a leading cause of snowmobile fatalities.
- Avoid using alcohol or drugs before and during riding. Alcohol or drugs can impair judgment, increase hypothermia risk, and contribute to unsafe snowmobile operation.
- Ride with a partner or group of riders to avoid riding alone. Plan the snowmobile route, and let someone know the route and the estimated time of return.
- Supervise children on snowmobiles under the age of 16. Two-thirds of fatal snowmobile accidents involving children are due to head and neck injuries caused by the snowmobile striking a stationary object.
In some cases, a personal injury lawyer may see snowmobile accidents caused by mechanical failure and manufacturing defects. When injuries result, a lawsuit can be filed to recover compensation for injuries and damages.