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Riding safely on your snowmobile

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Did you know there are 1.3 million registered snowmobiles in the U.S.? And that the economic impact of the snow machines is around $26 billion annually?

Snowmobiling is a big deal if you live in a region fortunate enough to receive enough snow to make the season happen.

According to the International Snowmobile Manufacturers Association, the following is the profile of a snowmobiler:

  • Average age: 53 years old
  • Spends $2,500 each year on snowmobile-related recreation
  • 50% of snowmobilers trailer their snowmobiles to ride; 50% snowmobile from their primary residence or have a vacation home where they keep and use their snowmobiles
  • Snowmobilers raise over $3 million for charity annually

There are more than 3,000 snowmobile clubs worldwide, involved in trail grooming, charity fundraising and family activities. And the ISMA says snowmobiling is great exercise, bringing people outdoors interacting with nature and each other. It’s great for stress release and good mental health. But that’s only true if safety is practiced.

A snowmobile is just another vehicle, and where it’s necessary, riders should follow the “rules of the road.” That means obeying stop signs, staying to the right and generally behave responsibly.

Use your best judgment when riding and you’ll have a very enjoyable winter

If you haven’t ridden a bike in a long time and you think you can hop right back on, you know there’s a brief readjustment period, during which your mind and your body bring up the muscle memory to make forward motion happen. The same is true of snowmobiling. It’s likely been a full year since you last rode. Take your time with that first trip out and take notice of how your sled is running.

Make sure you wear plenty of layers, have adequate protection if you get wet and have emergency materials if needed. Helmets are always a good idea. So are goggles, thick gloves, a snowsuit, sturdy snow boots and lots of warm layers underneath.

Be careful if you come across any wild animals too. Threatened animals can charge, and you’re much more exposed on a snowmobile than you would be in a car. Being respectful of wild animals is a good way to stay safe and make memories.

Another tip? Be a good neighbor. If snow fences are up, respect them. If it’s late and you’re near someone’s home, you don’t need to go full throttle. And if you see someone who looks like they might need help, stop and ask.

Here’s hoping you get plenty of opportunity to hit the trails this winter!

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