NEWS Six dead in Minnesota snowmobile accidents this winter, DNR urges caution – Twin Cities

Six dead in Minnesota snowmobile accidents this winter, DNR urges caution – Twin Cities

Heavy snow on the ground, warmer temperatures and, for many, a three-day holiday weekend means plenty of riders will be out on the snowmobile trails.

The Wisconsin and Minnesota Departments of Natural Resources hope these riders don’t die on these trails.

The two organizations held a media event this week aimed at promoting snowmobile safety ahead of the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday and during International Snowmobile Safety Week.

At least six people have died in snowmobile accidents in Minnesota this season, the DNR said Thursday.

Two snowmobilers ride the Pequaywan Snowmobile Trail north of Duluth, Minnesota. Snowmobile safety officials in Minnesota and Wisconsin are urging caution because more people will be out this winter and there will be more snow on the ground. (Forum News Service)

Years with more snow in more parts of the region, as happened this year, almost always mean more snowmobile accidents, officials said.

“Snowmobile access is entirely dependent on the weather, and in years with a lot of snow like this year, we’ve seen an increase in the number of riders,” Capt. Jon Paurus, DNR Law Enforcement Education Program Coordinator, said in a statement. Anyone planning to go out must make good decisions and put safety first.”

While the DNR has yet to officially report on all fatalities, preliminary reports indicate that six riders have died in Minnesota, all since Dec. 31. That’s the same number of fatalities for the entire 2021-22 snowmobile season and double the number for the 2020-21 season. Eleven Minnesota snowmobilers died in 2019-20 and 10 in 2018-19.

Last winter, about 22 people were killed in snowmobile accidents in Wisconsin. The DNR has yet to tally the number of deaths this winter.

Many snowmobile accidents involve speeding, alcohol, driving on thin ice, or going off a designated route.

The Wisconsin DNR this week urged riders to be especially careful near any lakes or rivers, many of which are not frozen enough to support snowmobiles.

Lieutenant Jack Hallscrow of Wisconsin said: “Keep in mind that no ice is ever completely safe, and even areas that appear thick and covered with snow may harbor black ice that may be caught in the machine. and the rider’s weight.” DNR Off-Highway Vehicle Administrator.

Each winter, more than 200,000 registered snowmobiles hit Wisconsin’s 25,000 miles of groomed trails. Minnesota has approximately 220,000 registered snowmobiles and 22,000 miles of official trails.

Security experts recommend:

• Stay on marked trails. The Snowmobile Club maintains good riding conditions on the state’s trails. Riders who stay on groomed trails are less likely to hit obstacles or trespass on private property. Minnesota riders can check trail conditions at before heading out. The Snowmobile Trail Report for Wisconsin is at

• Do not ride. Drinking and cycling are the leading causes of crashes and play a significant role in approximately 60 percent of fatal accidents.

• Watch your speed and keep to the right. Driving too fast is another leading cause of crashes. Many serious and fatal accidents occur when a speeding snowmobile loses control or hits an object. When encountering another snowmobile, always slow down and keep to the right.

• Contact your local sporting goods store and ask about the ice conditions for the lake or river you want to cross. Do not travel to unfamiliar places.

• Be careful on ice. Nearly all ice deaths in Minnesota in recent years have involved people riding snowmobiles or ATVs. Fresh ice must be at least 5-7 inches thick to support the weight of the snowmobile and rider. Check the ice thickness as you go.

• Take a snowmobile safety class. Anyone born after 1976 needs it and recommends it to everyone. People with snowmobile safety certifications are less likely to be involved in serious or fatal crashes, data shows.

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