Millions of people participate in winter-weather sports and recreational activities, such as snowmobiling, skiing, and snowboarding. While winter sports and recreational activities, such as snowmobiling, are a fun pastime during the winter months, it is important to stay safe while participating in these activities.
Unfortunately, the number of snowmobile accidents in Illinois is on the rise. According to the Journal-Standard, Illinois Conservation Police responded to 13 snowmobile crashes statewide in the 2012-13 season, compared to 11 in the 2011-12 season. Furthermore, snowmobile accidents can be fatal as it was in this case.
The following are safety tips on how to prevent snowmobile accidents:
- Educate yourself about snowmobile safety. The Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) offers a snowmobile education course that consists of eight hours of snowmobile safety instruction, including the basics of snowmobile maintenance and repair, proper snowmobile operation, the history of snowmobiling, first aid, environmental protection, and applicable state laws. The program is primarily designed for young people between the ages of 12 and 16. Illinois law requires that persons between the ages of 12 and 16 possess a valid Snowmobile Safety Education Certificate of Competency in order to operate a snowmobile if they are not accompanied on the snowmobile by a parent or guardian.
- Obey age restrictions. No person under 10 years of age is allowed to operate a snowmobile in Illinois. Children between the ages of 10 and 12 may operate a snowmobile only under a parent or guardian’s direct control and supervision.
- Do not operate a snowmobile while under the influence of alcohol. Alcohol dulls the senses and delays reaction times, which can create dangerous situations. In fact, according to the IDNR, more than 50 percent of snowmobile fatalities in North America involve intoxicated operators. Not only is drinking-and-snowmobiling dangerous, but it is also illegal. Most states, including Illinois, prohibit the operation of a snowmobile while under the influence of alcohol.
- Keep your snowmobile in safe operating condition. Before riding, you should perform a preparatory safety check as outlined in the snowmobile operator’s manual.
- Beware of water and ice. According to the International Snowmobile Manufacturers Associations, collisions on lakes account for a significant number of snowmobile accidents. Moreover, it can be difficult to determine the thickness of ice and there can be patches of thin ice that appear without warning.
- Carry safety equipment at all times. Before riding, you should make sure that the snowmobile has a tool kit, spark plugs, drive belt, first aid kit, rope, waterproof matches, a flashlight, and an extra ignition key on board.
The Chicago accident and injury lawyers at Ankin Law Office, LLC are dedicated to promoting safety and helping accident and injury victims obtain the financial recovery they deserve. If you were injured in a snowmobile accident, contact our office at (312) 600-0000 to schedule a free consultation with one of our Chicago accident and injury lawyers.