Canadians know how to enjoy the winter weather and embrace the cold. For many of us, that means jumping on our snowmobiles and going out for a ride in the snow.
Snowmobiling in Ontario is a fun pastime for many of us, but it comes with some serious safety precautions that everyone should know.
A snowmobile is treated just like a motor vehicle, which means you’ll need insurance and a permit, as well as a safety course.
If you’re planning some family fun time this winter, always be prepared. Accidents can happen at any time, and the only way we can deal with them is to prepare for the worst.
Here are some essential safety tips that all Ontario residents should be taking into consideration when we’re ready to head out for some winter fun.
A snowmobile is a motorized vehicle, so naturally there are specific laws in Ontario that dictate how you can operate it.
You need to be at least 12 years old to legally operate a snowmobile on public property. If you’re looking for some winter fun with the kids, and they’re under 12, you need to stay on private property if they’re operating a snowmobile.
If your kids are 12 to 16 years old, they’ll need a Motorized Snow Vehicle Operator’s License (MSVOL). You can get this license by completing a program at the Ontario Federation of Snowmobile Clubs (OFSC).
You don’t need a MSVOL if you have a valid Ontario driver’s license, but you will need to register your snowmobile with the Ministry of Transportation and have valid snowmobile insurance.
Every time you take your snowmobile out on the road, make sure you have your MSVOL or driver’s license, insurance card, and your snowmobile registration permit with you.
Once this is all set, you can take your snowmobile out on any snowmobile trails, private property (with permission), and on the side of public roads. Never ride on highways, paved roads where cars drive, or private property without the owner’s permission.
Just like a driver’s safety course, a snowmobile safety course will prep you for your ride.
You can take a snowmobile operator’s safety course through the Canada Safety Council that will teach you everything you need to know to stay safe and have fun.
Try taking a practice test to ensure you’re up to date on your safety knowledge, even if you already have your Ontario snowmobile license.
Never leave home without a snowmobile safety kit.
Here are some recommended items from the Ontario Government that you should always have in your kit:
It’s important to plan out your trip and your route before you go.
In Ontario, it’s illegal to snowmobile on many public roads and highways. In some areas, you are permitted to ride in the shoulder beside the road if you can’t get to a snowmobile trail any other way.
Never travel on the paved roads where cars drive. This is not only illegal, but dangerous for you and the cars.
Check municipal by-laws for the area you’re going to be travelling.
Take care to avoid any unfamiliar icy areas, like frozen lakes or rivers. You don’t know what lies underneath and how frozen these waters really are.
Groomers are those who have paved out the path ahead of you. On trails that belong to clubs, these are tractor-like machines that pave out the trail ahead of you so you can easily follow.
Watch out for these machines, and other snowmobilers, because you could be seriously injured if you encounter them and don’t take precautions.
It’s important to pay attention to the trail you follow because you don’t want to run into someone else, especially a machine, and cause a snowmobile accident or injury.
If the trail you’re following is hard, that means that it’s had some time to set, so the groomer should be pretty far ahead of you. In this case, you’re less likely to sneak up on them.
However, if the trail is pretty soft, the groomer might still be just around the corner, so take caution and lower your speed.
Remember that groomers have the right of way any time you encounter them, so always give them room and let them pass.
If you’re an experienced snowmobiler, you should already know this. Just like driving a car, it’s important to stay on the right side of the road to avoid accidents.
Since there are no dotted lines like a paved road, it’s important to follow this rule. The last thing you want is to charge head-first into an oncoming vehicle and suffer a serious spinal cord injury or traumatic brain injury.
If you must drive at night, make sure you follow the right precautions so other drivers can see you.
This includes using your headlights, reducing your speed, and wearing reflective clothing.
Groomers have lights that will indicate where they are, so always keep your head up and pay attention to your surroundings.
Remember, the outdoors is unpredictable and you never know what will happen when you’re out at night in the elements. Always be prepared.
Snowmobile accidents happen. Sometimes, they aren’t our fault.
When that happens, get an experienced personal injury lawyer who will fight for you to get the compensation you deserve. You don’t need to do this on your own.
At Conte & Associates, our team of aggressive personal injury lawyers will do everything in their power to get you the best settlement to help you move on with your life. We work with top medical experts in Ontario to build a strong case for you.