Record number of snowmobile fatalities in Ontario last year

​As the snow settles, you'll likely hear the revving of snowmobile engines across the northeast and along with them, a plea from the Ontario Provincial Police for drivers to use caution after a record high number of fatalities last season.

OPP plead with snowmobilers not to be daredevils this year after a spike in fatalities last year

Provincial police are asking snowmobilers to practice safe sledding after spike in the number of fatalities last season. (Radio-Canada)
Last year's snowmobile fatalities were the highest in fifteen years. The OPP just launched a snowmobile safety education campaign as a part of its Snowmobile Safety Week. OPP media relations coordinator Staff Sergeant Carole Dionne spoke with the CBC's Angela Gemmill about some of the safety issues on the trails and how snowmobilers can stay safe. 6:52

​As the snow settles, you'll likely hear the revving of snowmobile engines across the northeast and along with them, a plea from the Ontario Provincial Police for drivers to use caution after a record high number of fatalities last season.

Twenty seven people died in the 2016-2017 season across the province, said OPP, and another seven people have died already this season.

As for why the highest number of deaths in 15 years, Staff Sergeant Carolle Dionne says some snowmobilers may be overconfident, especially when travelling over icy waterways.

That seems to be the case with those in the 45-60 year-old age bracket, she said, who can afford bigger, fancier machines.

"Oftentime we see that people overestimate their ability to handle these machines," she said.

"We really want to drive this message making sure you're familiar with your snowmobile, drive to your abilities not overestimate your abilities to handle these powerful and heavy equipment."

'Over confident'

Murray Baker is the president of The Sudbury Trail Plan OFSC District 12.

The group grooms 1,100 kilometres of trails in the Sudbury and Espanola region.

He considers visibility, speed and alcohol to be the three major contributing factors to accidents during the sledding season. 

Baker also observes that it isn't the young enthusiasts who get in the most trouble.

"Surprisingly it isn't the young end. It's more the middle end that's involved in more of the incidents," he said.

"You sometimes get over confident, and start to ... when you know the trails and things, well, you forget there's somebody else on it that may not know it, and you start to take chances that doesn't benefit either person."

Nine of last season's fatalities occurred as a result of the snowmobiles either going through the ice of entering water, said OPP.