January 19-27, 2019 is Snowmobile Safety Week, established by the International Snowmobile Manufacturers Association (ISMA) to recognize the importance of safe, responsible snowmobiling.

It’s been an up and down winter when it comes to snow, but there’s still time for you and your family to enjoy outdoor activities such as snowmobiling.

What steps can I take to snowmobile safely?

Key safety points include:

  • Don’t drink and ride. Snowmobiling and alcohol don’t mix.
  • Take a snowmobile safety training course. In Vermont, you need education if you were born after July 1, 1983, and plan to ride in Vermont. See the Vermont-Approved Snowmobile Course, which is approved and accepted by the Vermont State Police.
  • Expect the unexpected. When night riding, slow down.
  • Know before you go. Always check local ice conditions.
  • Cross with care.
  • One is the loneliest number. Never ride alone.
  • Stay on the trail and respect private property.

What about children and snowmobiles?

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that no child under age 16 operate a snowmobile and that children under age 6 never ride on snowmobiles.

Do not place children in front of the driver. In the event of a crash, a child may be seriously injured by being crushed against the handlebars. Only carry passengers on snowmobiles designed for two riders. These machines include an extra seat or longer seat behind the driver as well as rear handgrips for the passenger.

The AAP also recommends that all passengers and drivers wear safety helmets specifically designed for snowmobiles. Look for snowmobilers’ helmets approved by Snell or another standards organization (such as ASTM International). Do not use bicycle helmets.

Where can I get more information?

See the ISMA website’s safety page and the AAP article Take the High Road to Snowmobile Safety. The Consumer Product Safety Commission has a comprehensive helmet selection web page, including snowmobile helmet recommendations.

Maureen Johnson is the Child Passenger Safety Specialist at The University of Vermont Medical Center.

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