There's something captivating about snowmobiling. You can ride out into the fresh, powdery snow and enjoy the blast of refreshing winter air on your face. It can be exhilarating, and you can enjoy the snowy scenery as you zip by.
But while snowmobiling can be enjoyable, it also requires some care and attention. Like any vehicle, you need to know how to operate a snowmobile safely and to properly prepare yourself for the ride.
Below, we'll discuss nine safety tips for snowmobiling.
1. Bring a Buddy
A solo ride out on the trail may be appealing, but be sure to take a friend with you. If something happens, they can offer help or call for assistance if necessary. You don't want to be stuck with a broken down snowmobile in the middle of the mountains, and you don't want to find yourself stranded should there be an avalanche or a thin patch of ice.
2. Tell a Friend or Family Member Where You're Going
Being all grown up, you can take care of yourself. And if you take a buddy, you'll have a little help when you need it. But even a trip down a safe trail can have complications for both you and your friend.
Be sure to tell a trusted friend or family member what trail you are taking and when you should be back. If he or she isn't sure what your snowmobile looks like, leave a detailed description so your friend can identify your vehicle in an emergency. When you make it back home safely, be sure to let him or her know so your friend isn't left worrying when you don't call.
3. Drive Defensively
Snowmobiling in falling snow can be difficult. All those fluttering snowflakes can affect your visibility, and your noisy snowmobile can make it almost impossible to hear what's around you. So keep an eye out, and don't assume you know what other snowmobilers will do.
Even if no one else is on the trail but you and a buddy, watch out for unexpected obstacles in your path, such as animals, trees and branches, or sudden curves and stops.
4. Don't Drink and Ride
It's never a good idea to consume alcohol and operate a vehicle. And because snowmobiling requires a lot of careful attention with visibility issues and unexpected changes in the trail, drinking and snowmobiling can be extremely dangerous. You need to be alert and able to act quickly at all times. So, wait until you get home before you have a cold one with your pal.
5. Avoid Any Ice or Water
Don't ride on frozen lakes or ponds. It can be difficult to tell if the ice is thick enough, and the weight of your snowmobile can easily crack the ice. Snowmobilers have died in icy waters, so be alert and keep away from water and ice. If you do need to cross over ice, keep going and don't slow down or stop until you've made it to the opposite bank.
6. Get Familiar With the Area
If you're planning to ride on a new trail, don't set off blindly. Ask locals about the trail, and get maps when you can. Be sure you're aware of any potential hazards or problems before getting on the trail.
7. Be Careful When It's Dim or Dark
A lack of light can present a challenge while snowmobiling. It can be difficult to see what's ahead, so stay sharp and keep your eyes peeled for those unexpected hazards.
When depending solely on your headlights, don't go too fast. Snowmobile headlights generally only cover 200 feet ahead of you, so it's best to stick to a maximum of 40 mph while you ride in the dark. Any faster than that and you may not have enough time to stop if there's a complication ahead.
8. Stay on the Trail
For maximum safety, it's best to keep to the beaten path. If you veer away from the trail, you may run into a problem or a hazardous area. For many state parks and other areas, you may only be permitted to ride on the trail, so follow the rules and stick to the path.
9. Use the Right Signals
It's not uncommon to share the trail with snowmobilers, and you may sometimes have to cross a road with cars or other automobiles. To keep you and other drivers safe, be sure to use the proper signals to communicate what you're doing, such as the following:
- Right turn: Hold your left arm out at a 90-degree angle with your forearm up.
- Left turn: Put your left arm out horizontally.
- Stop: Vertically raise your left arm.
- Slow: Stretch your left arm out and angle it a bit towards the ground.
Telling others what you're about to do with hand signals will help them know how to proceed or if they should stop.
It's important to always be cautious when riding a snowmobile. Stay alert and don't take unnecessary risks. You should also ensure your snowmobile is properly maintained and that you're dressed appropriately for snowmobiling.
Should you ever need parts for your snowmobile or a new protective helmet, turn to a snowmobile attire and part supplier, such as Bob's Cycle Supply. We provide quality parts and snowmobile gear to keep you safe and your snowmobile going.