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Stay Safe! Tips On How to Avoid a Snowmobile Accident This Winter

Tips on avoiding snowmobile accident this winter


According to statistics, between the years of 1985 and 1990 there were 131 snowmobile deaths in Ontario. Studies show that fatal accidents are more likely to occur on lakes than on roads or snowmobile trails.

Lakes – 66%
Roads – 26%
Trails – 8%

The Ontario Federation of Snowmobile Clubs states that drowning is the number one cause of death in snowmobile fatalities. The safest snowmobiling rule is to never cross lakes or rivers since it can never be guaranteed that the ice is sufficiently thick to support a snow machine. It is said that there is no such thing as safe ice.

If you are venturing out on the ice, there are some things to keep in mind. The presence of other snow machines on the ice is not a substitute for knowing the thickness of the ice. Various municipal, provincial, and non-profit organizations advocate that ice is unsafe unless it exceeds the following guide:
Minimum ice thickness

+10 cm: walking or skiing
+12 cm: one snowmobile
+30 cm: one car or small pick-up truck
+38 cm: medium truck or van

Thickness alone may not be enough to judge the stability of the ice

  • White ice has air or snow within it and should be considered suspect.
  • White ice is half as strong as clear blue ice.
  • Ice that is a mixture of clear and white ice should be a minimum of six inches before walking on it.
  • Grey ice is the weakest.
  • Consideration must be given to the prevalence of currents and water depth
  • Ice sections that are very close together can still have very different thicknesses.
  • A buoyant snowmobile suit helping keep the rider afloat and protect against hypothermia.
  • Riders should carry easily accessible ice picks.
  • Pulling yourself out of a hole in the ice is difficult, soaked snowmobile suits can add up to 65 Lbs.
  • Travel with a companion
  • Ensure that someone back on shore knows your whereabouts
  • Carry a cell phone so you can call for help.

Snowmobile accidents were responsible for more hospitalizations than hockey between 2010-2011, according to a report released by the Canadian Institute for Health Information. The same report claims that winter sports were responsible for more than 5,600 hospitalizations across Canada last year. Twenty per cent of the 5,600 were serious injuries — This number does not include people who died at the scene of the accident or who only visited the emergency department.

The Law
In Ontario, snowmobile accident victims and their family members can claim compensation for their losses from their own insurance company (No-Fault Accident benefits) and from the person responsible for the collision (Tort claim).

Your insurer is obliged to pay No-Fault Accident Benefits compensating for lost income and paying for help performing household maintenance and self care activities. It must also pay for all necessary medical services and rehabilitation. The benefits are payable upon application. Time limits govern when you must apply. Laws determine which benefits are payable. Insurance companies often deny benefits they are obliged to pay. You are entitled to dispute the insurer’s refusal to pay your benefits. Different levels of benefits are available to snowmobile injury victims, depending upon the type of injury and impairments.

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