December 29, 2016
RIDE RESPONSIBLY - Snowmobile Safety Campaign
This snowmobile season, the Maine Warden Service and the Maine Snowmobile Association have teamed up once again to remind people to ride responsibly. Game Warden Corporal John MacDonald and MSA Executive Director Bob Meyers met with several media outlets this morning to discuss Maine’s busy snowmobiling season. Today’s press conference highlighted the need for snowmobile riders to work together and reduce crashes. Driving under the influence, speeding, operating in adverse weather conditions, and operating on unfamiliar water bodies are common contributing factors with snowmobile incidents here in Maine.
To reduce incidents related to snowmobile crashes and search and rescue incidents, we ask that riders provide trip plans to family members and carry essential items with them. If you deviate significantly from your trip plans, please let a family member know. Search and rescue involves significant resources and are often hazardous to conduct. Many search and rescue missions can be avoided using good common sense.
When possible, carry a phone or other communication device in the event of an emergency and dial 911. Other key items include a means to make a fire, extra gas, snowshoes, small shovel, hand warmers and perhaps some food and water in the event your trip gets delayed or you must spend the night in the woods unexpectedly.
We encourage every rider to make sure their sled is registered and join a snowmobile club before they ride. Your snowmobile registration dollars provide the funding and support clubs need to maintain our great trails and also provide game wardens with tools needed to keep you safe.
With early and ongoing snowfall, visitors from all over the Northeast are headed for Maine’s 14,500 miles of snowmobile trails. Thanks is due to the thousands of volunteers who belong to 289 clubs statewide whose hard work in the off-season make the trails ready to ride as soon as enough snow hits the ground. Show them your support by joining your local snowmobile club before you ride. Thanks also to generous landowners statewide who allow us the use of their property – please respect their generosity by treating their property as if it were your own.
And when you register your snowmobile, it is a great time to purchase an Outdoors Partner membership from the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife. For a nominal fee, you help provide critical support to Maine’s Landowner Relations Program. Maine’s rich tradition of public access to private land for recreation is essential for everyone who enjoys the outdoors. Your participation ensures that landowners across the state get the support they need and deserve to continue to allow access.
Now is also the time to brush up on safety and remind yourself of the simple rules that will keep your riding season safe and enjoyable. Some basic safety tips include:
STAY ON MARKED TRAILS. Respect the property of the thousands of landowners that allow trails on their property. Riding off-trail can lead to crashes with hazards buried under the snow.
NEVER DRINK AND RIDE. Many snowmobile accidents involve alcohol. The Maine Warden Service will be on the trails all season to strictly enforce Maine’s tough OUI law. Offenders pose a risk to all riders, and if caught will face large fines and jail time.
ALWAYS OPERATE YOUR SLED AT A SAFE AND REASONABLE SPEED. Operating at a safe and reasonable speed means being in control of your machine at all times. If you have any doubt, slow down.
ALWAYS RIDE TO THE RIGHT. Stay on the right hand side of the trail at all times. Remember to always pull well off the side of the trail when you stop.
APPROACH EVERY HILL, CORNER, AND INTERSECTION WITH CAUTION. Ride your sled as if another will be coming toward you on your side of the trail. On Maine’s busy trail system, you must keep an eye out for other riders.
LET OTHERS KNOW WHERE YOU’RE GOING. Leave a note on your dashboard saying where you’re going and when you expect to be back. If you go missing, searchers will have a starting point to look for you.
DON’T RIDE ALONE. Riding with others ensures that someone else will be there to help should you encounter problems. Many times help can be hours away, and having friends along will help ensure a safe trip.
WITH ICE CONDITIONS, IF YOU DON’T KNOW DON’T GO. Check conditions with locals. Area chambers of commerce or snowmobile clubs are excellent sources – they know conditions first hand.