Snowmobile safety on trails a priority for newly-trained officers

Six more police officers will be patrolling snowmobile trails this winter, after receiving training from the Canada Safety Council.

Planning ahead could be key to surviving emergency situations, police say

Mike Prud'homme, coordinator with the Canada Safety Council, says an operator's pre-ride preparation routine is key to dealing with snowmobile emergencies. (Angela Gemmill/CBC)

Six more police officers will be patrolling Sudbury's snowmobile trails this winter, after receiving training from the Canada Safety Council.

The Greater Sudbury Police Services invited the council to provide Sudbury instructors with safety know-how after their regular trainer from the Sudbury Trail Plan, passed away in 2016.

The hope, said Sudbury Police Services constable Andrew Hinds, is to make trail safety a priority for riders.

"A lot of the people that we tend to that are lost or an emergency situations are people who haven't planned ahead, who haven't prepared themselves, familiarized themselves with the snowmobile and their equipment and also the layout of where they're going," Hinds said.

Every snowmobiler's plan should include having emergency provisions like extra food, something to start a fire and a cell phone, Hinds said.

After the course's completion, which also included members from the MNR and EMS, the number of officers trained in snowmobile safety increases to almost two dozen.

This crew will be offering a mixed type of enforcement, Hinds said. Some officers will patrol groomed trails, some may venture out onto lakes to check ice huts. Officers who are not trained in snowmobile operation may even take a cruiser to a well-travelled intersection to monitor traffic.

Thorough, pre-ride checks recommended

Mike Prud'homme, the coordinator for off-road vehicles with the Canada Safety Council, said being ready to tackle emergency situations begins with putting the extra effort into being prepared.

He said every rider should conduct a thorough check of their machine before heading out onto the trails, and plan for the trip back.

"We recommend you use one-third of the tank to go out and you have one-third of the tank to come back," Prud'homme said, "that way if conditions change or you take a different route or whatnot, you've got that extra gas in there that you can count on to hopefully get you safely home."

Prud'homme also suggests snowmobilers dress for the weather, bring along a cell phone and tell someone where they're going.

He also offers riders this checklist before hitting the trails.

  • check over the vehicle before heading out (pre-ride inspection)
  • check machine's oil and gas
  • read the owner's manual
  • check weather for the ride
  • tell people where you're going
  • when on trails, stay to the right. Trails can sometimes be narrow and there isn't always enough room for machines to pass each other
  • dress appropriately for conditions

With files from Angela Gemmill.


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