The OPP has strongly urged snowmobile riders to stop taking unnecessary risks while riding and to adhere to laws of the Motorized Snow Vehicles Act to ensure their safety as well as that of others.
The OPP advice comes just days after recent deaths from snowmobile accidents. There has been six recent snowmobile deaths bringing the total number of snowmobile fatalities this winter to 13 compared to eight deaths at this point last season. The OPP has also received a number of complaints regarding side-by-side, all-terrain vehicles travelling on groomed snowmobile trails and causing damage. The police has urged people to use the trails only while riding snow machines.
While lack of snow was a factor in last winter’s lower numbers, the constant over the past two seasons are the causal factors leading to the deaths. OPP investigators have linked the fatalities to riding on unsafe ice, speeding, loss of control, alcohol use and driver inattention, confirming that driver behaviours continue to cause otherwise preventable snowmobile deaths.
In one incident last week, an 11-year old girl died after the snowmobile she was driving collided with a transport truck as she attempted to cross a major highway. Another collision claimed the life of one driver and left another in critical condition after two snowmobiles crashed head-on. Over the weekend, members of the OPP Underwater Search and Recovery Unit brought to shore the lifeless body of a male driver from a lake, making it the third incident of the season during which a snowmobiler died while riding on unsafe ice.
“The vast majority of these incidents are not random ‘accidents’ that can happen to just any snowmobiler. Somewhere along the way, a risk was taken or an error in judgement was made,” says OPP Deputy Commissioner Brad Blair, Provincial Commander, Traffic Safety and Operational Support. “Sadly, tragedies occurred at an alarming rate last week and the only way to prevent them is for every snowmobiler to eliminate all forms of risk when riding.”
“As with all recreational activities, there are always risks. These latest incidents serve as tragic reminders that making smart choices while snowmobiling helps ensure that your journey will be as safe as it is enjoyable,” adds Lisa Stackhouse, Manager, Participation and Partnership Development for the OFSC.
The OPP and OFSC remind the snowmobile community that family members can positively influence those who take unnecessary risks on a snowmobile. If you suspect that a loved one’s snowmobiling behaviour is placing them at risk, speak up and remind them how important it is to you and your family that they make it home safely after every ride.