OPP revving up for a safe snowmobile season

Snowmobile trails across northeastern Ontario are not ready for machines just yet, according to the Ontario Federation of Snowmobile Clubs. And with the winter season just beginning, police are taking the opportunity to issue some reminders about safe snowmobiling.
The OPP investigated 27 fatal collisions involving snowmobiles last winter. They are issuing safety reminders as the new sledding season is about the begin. (Toby Talbot/Associated Press)

Snowmobile trails across northeastern Ontario are not ready for machines just yet, according to the Ontario Federation of Snowmobile Clubs.

The group's website shows few trails are actually open across the region.

Because the winter season is just beginning, provincial police are issuing reminders about safe snowmobiling on trails and local waterways.

Ice on lakes and rivers across northeastern Ontario is not yet thick enough to support a snowmobile, said OPP constable Marvin Miller, who has been patrolling snowmobile trails in the region for the past nine years.

"As we know, the ice conditions are never the best at any time of the year." 

During the winter of 2016-2017, OPP investigated 27 snowmobiling deaths across Ontario, including 8 in the northeast region.

Miller said the main causes in a lot of snowmobile crashes are speed or alcohol.

"The skidoos nowadays they run quick down the trails. All skidoos will do over 100-miles an hour. So it's hard to get them slowed down."

Miller said when you do go out on the sled, always tell someone.

"The biggest thing I'm finding that people aren't doing is having a safety plan in effect. Telling people where you're going and what time you should arrive."

"This season we'd like to see no fatalities."

Other tips from OPP: 

  • Check the weather before you head out, and dress properly
  • Check the oil and gas in your machine, and top-up if necessary
  • Bring a charged cell phone in case of emergency
  • Carry an ice pick on a string around your neck in case you go through the ice and need something to break or dig into the ice
  • Bring extra food in case you break down — and don't forget matches or a lighter in case you need to start a fire
  • Stay sober, slow down and keep to the right on the trails

With files from Angela Gemmill