Ontario Federation of Snowmobile Clubs and OPP mark snowmobile safety week

John Breckenridge, President of Sault Trailblazers, says snowmobiling is a fun winter activity when enjoyed safely. He says there are some important safety tips to keep in mind before hitting the trails. Jan.16/22 (Mike McDonald/CTV News Northern Ontario)

The Ontario Federation of Snowmobile Clubs (OFSC) and the Ontario Provincial Police are teaming up to remind snowmobilers of the importance of riding safe.

It's "Snowmobile Safety Week" in Ontario and riders are being asked to watch their speed and pay attention to conditions. It's a warning the OPP say is often unheeded.

According to the OPP, driving too fast for conditions has been the leading cause of snowmobile deaths over the last 10 years. In addition to watching your speed, Ryan Eickmeier, CEO of the OFSC, says proper snowmobile maintenance is another safety factor to consider.

"You don't want to get stranded out there," says Eickmeier. "So make sure your machines are in good shape. Make sure you've inspected them. Make sure you're riding with partners. It gives you options and the ability to adapt to unforeseen situations."

John Breckenridge, President of Sault Trailblazers, says snowmobiling is a fun winter activity when enjoyed safely. He says there are some important safety tips to keep in mind before hitting the trails.

"I try to instruct everybody that I see to ride on the right-hand side of the trail," says Breckenridge.

"Ride on their own side of the trail. Ride at their own means. Don't try to keep up with your friend in front of you because they may be a faster rider. Just ride at your own means where you're comfortable. Don't put yourself in a situation where you're not comfortable."

Breckenridge says trail etiquette is another consideration.

"I know a lot of people have (what) we call 'cans' on their sleds," he says. "As long as you're not on the throttle hard, they don't make a lot of noise. But, you've got to be respectful. Because we're going through a lot of private property, and it's very easy for someone to say 'nope, no more, we don't want you there, you're making too much noise."

Breckenridge and Eickmeier are both encouraging riders to regularly consult the OFSC Interactive Trail Guide to determine which trails are open. They're also encouraging riders to take great care near waterways as they may not be completely frozen.