The OPP released their 10-year trend analysis and the results are ‘grim’ according to the police. Nearly 50% of the fatalities on snow machines in Ontario in the last decade occurred on frozen lakes and rivers. Almost Half (45%) involved alcohol or drugs. These risk-taking behaviors are taking lives unnecessarily
With a third of the deaths in Central Region it appears that many of us are heading to cottage country to ride our machines and are doing so unsafely. In the last 10 years 175 people have died while participating in a recreational activity. Sgt. Paul Potter described the statistic as ‘very grim’.
Other contributing factors to the deaths include excessive speeds. According to Sgt Potter not driving to speeds and conditions combined with impaired driving becomes a deadly mix. If speed and alcohol were removed from the ride, then there would be far fewer deaths on the trails.
Another area of concern is the number of deaths on lakes and rivers which occurred directly as a result of ‘puddle jumping’. This is a game where riders intentionally driving onto open water and ‘jump’ from ice surface to ice surface. Incidents of breaking through the ice, collisions with other snowmobiles, or hitting natural landmarks such as trees and rocks are high. This behavior is extremely risky not only for the riders but for the rescue personnel as well.
The OPP have released press statements indicating that they have a regular presence on trails and do enforcement campaigns like RIDE stops. Ontario’s trail associations who maintain thousands of kilometres of marked trails remind all riders to stay on the marked routes and off roads and fields that aren’t part of the trail systems.
It’s easy to find up to date trail conditions online for the province.
Consensus among police, fire and rescue is consistent – driver behavior needs to be changed. The trails and machines aren’t the problem. The drivers are the problem.
You can find information on snowmobile safety here.