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Tips for staying safe on your snowmobile

You've ridden as a passenger on a friend's snowmobile once or twice, but this is going to be the winter you rent or buy your own. It's fun and exciting, but it can also be dangerous if you aren't careful -- or if others on the trail aren't. This past January, five snowmobilers were killed in one day throughout four counties here in Michigan.

Conservation officers with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR) patrol the trails. Snowmobilers can be issued citations and be arrested if they're suspected of being under the influence. One DNR supervisor says, "Many fatalities occur because of drinking and driving, high speed or carelessness, all of which are preventable actions."

While you can't control what other snowmobilers do, there are a number of steps you can take to remain safe on the trails and minimize your chances of serious injury. For example:

  • Make sure your machine is in good condition and check the weather conditions before you start.
  • Avoid areas you don't know -- particularly if there's a lot of snow.
  • Avoid riding alone. However, if you do, make sure someone knows where you're going.
  • Always wear a helmet and protective goggles.
  • Carry a first aid kit.
  • Don't get overconfident. You never know what the next curve will bring.

If you or a loved one has been injured or worse because another snowmobiler was reckless, negligent or under the influence, you may be able to take civil action independent of any criminal penalties they might be facing. This can help you seek compensation for medical bills, lost wages and other expenses and damages as you move forward.

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