Feb 10, 2023 | By: Justin Othoudt

DNR Offers Snowmobile Safety Tips After Worrying Numbers of Fatal Crashes

Snowmobiling is one of the many pastimes winter in Minnesota affords us all. However, it’s also an activity that shouldn’t be taken lightly, as there have already been nine fatalities from snowmobile crashes so far this winter. For reference, there were only six deaths for all of the 2021-2022 season.

“That is above last year, which is obviously concerning,” said DNR communications coordinator Joe Albert. “We always say that one fatality is always one too many.”

In an effort to prevent these fatal crashes, the Minnesota DNR, along with several other organizations, has offered pieces of advice to snowmobile riders hitting the trails. These include wearing a helmet and always sticking to the right hand side of the trail, but by far one of the biggest pieces of advice is to be mindful of one’s speed in areas they’re unfamiliar with.

“Speed always has been a number one factor in these crashes, unfamiliarity with the area and trails,” said Cass County Sheriff Bryan Welk.

“You have to ride to your abilities, ride to the conditions, and if you’re not familiar with a place, you need to slow down,” said Albert.

Trail management is also at the upmost importance when it comes to maintaining safety. Much of this maintenance is done by local organizations such as the North Country Snowmobile Club, which regularly grooms and clears Bemdiji trails of debris.

“We try to get out as soon as we can; as soon as people call us, we’ll try to get out there and remove the obstruction,” explained North Country Snowmobile Club president Randy Fitzgerald.

These safety precautions are important to remember, not only to prevent fatal crashes, but also to set an example for the next generation of would-be snowmobile riders.

“When you’re riding with youngsters, be a role model for them,” said Fitzgerald. “Remember, if you’re out there hotdog-ing it, they’re gonna see that’s fun and try copying it too.”

In light of the recent crash reports, the DNR has released a series of snowmobiling safety tips on their website, as well as an online course for snowmobile safety certification.

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