OUTDOORS + RECREATION

Advocates urge snowmobile safety following two deaths this week

Jan 18, 2024, 1:00 PM

A snowmobiler rides between two trees as snow falls near the Spruces Campground in Big Cottonwood C...

A snowmobiler rides between two trees as snow falls near the Spruces Campground in Big Cottonwood Canyon on Monday, Feb. 27, 2023. (Scott G. Winterton/Deseret News)

(Scott G. Winterton/Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY— Following two snowmobiler deaths in the last week, advocates are calling on participants to engage in snowmobile safety practices. 

Missy Elardi, the head of the Utah Snowmobile Association said, “there’s always the chance of an accident happening and you definitely want to ensure that you are doing everything in your power and helping protect the people in your group as well.”

Snowmobile safety

According to Elardi, snowmobilers should not go into the backcountry alone. They also should take an avalanche safety course before heading out. 

If you are new to snowmobiling, it is recommended that you go with at least one person who is experienced.

Avalanche danger is high after a snowstorm, according to Elardi. Practicing snowmobiling safety includes adventuring with the proper gear and knowledge, according to the Utah Snowmobile Association. 

Additionally, Elardi said that riders should understand how to operate their vehicle. Those who are between the ages of 8 and 15 are required to possess an off-highway vehicle education certificate. Anyone over the age of 16 needs a driver’s license, per Utah law. 

Snowmobiles should also be properly maintained. Elardi said that riders should know how to check for issues that may need addressing. 

“You have to respect the machine, you have to respect the mountain,” Elardi said. 

The Utah Division of Natural Resources’ Outdoor Recreation Division website provides an OHV safety checklist

Like driving a car or ATV, you should never follow too closely behind another vehicle. Before crossing a roadway, riders should look both ways. Additionally, stay to the right when you are on a trail. 

Finally, regardless of the time of day, your snowmobile’s headlights should remain on, according to Elardi. 

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Advocates urge snowmobile safety following two deaths this week