With winter on the way, many pastimes in the wicked weather will become commonplace, some safer than others.
Snowmobiles, commonly referred to as sleds, are one of Canada’s favourite winter attractions. The off-road vehicle is designed to turn the snow often frowned upon into a playground. However, these machines come with many dangers and are not to be ridden by the untrained or inexperienced.
Robertson Motorsports & Marine Sales Manager Dustin Mathies has been surrounded by the machines for several years.
“Safety on a snowmobile should be taken very seriously," expressed Mathies. "We would always recommend that anybody riding a snowmobile be outfitted with a properly fitting helmet, for starters. Obviously, warm clothing, gloves, that sort of thing, and then the second part of that is being aware of not only your abilities but also your surroundings. We hear oftentimes of people whether it's hitting fence lines or ditches, that sort of thing, or even in the mountains: avalanche risk and that sort of thing.”
Robertson Motorsports & Marine will be hosting an avalanche awareness seminar which occurs every year to provide in-depth knowledge of snow conditions, safety protocols and proper maintenance techniques.
“In the prairies, one of the biggest risks is often things hidden under the snow,” stated Mathies. “We often don't get really deep snow and we get some warm weather and snow drifts can become a problem when everything looks white. When you become snow-blind, everything looks the same. It's always important to know where you're riding, where your surroundings are and what possible hazards could be under the snow.”
According to Statistics Canada, 73 people on average die in snowmobile incidents every year in Canada. 80 per cent of those have one vehicle involved, and nearly 50 per cent of the deaths are caused by collisions with stationary objects.
“We always encourage people to ride safely, and make sure your gear and your snowmobile are well-maintained and working properly,” said Mathies. “Things like brakes and tracks, all that stuff definitely plays into the safety of your machine, and we want to make sure everybody can get out and enjoy these products. “
Statistics Canada also exposed that in 49 per cent of fatal cases involving snowmobiles, the operator was under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
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