‘Tis the season for snowmobiling Up North. But whether you’ve been hitting the trails for years or are getting ready to suit up for your first-ever ride, it’s always important to keep basic safety in mind—for yourself, and for everyone else out there enjoying the powder. “The most prevalent safety issue we see is people riding too fast for conditions,” says Bill Manson, executive director of the Michigan Snowmobile Association. “Speed is exhilarating, but snowmobiles don’t stop on a dime.”

Manson gave us several other important safety tips to keep in mind:

  • Make sure your snowmobile is in good, working order. Perform routine maintenance checks.
  • Dress appropriately and make sure you have a helmet with a clean, clear visor. Manson: “Don’t wear your cross-country ski clothes; wind chill is an issue here.”
  • Be cognizant of where you’re headed, and be sure you remain on public land.
  • If you’re going out on a lake, check with local ice fishermen to make sure the ice is thick enough to support your rig. “You want at least five inches of ice for snowmobiling,” Manson says.
  • Don’t ever drink and drive.
  • Take it easy on curvy trails, bearing in mind that most trails are two-way. Slow down—another rider might be just around the corner.

Have fun! “Snowmobiling can be a great family adventure,” Manson says.

For more information on Northern Michigan snowmobiling, including trails and where to rent rigs, visit the Michigan Snowmobile Association online at msasnow.org.

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