Approved by the CCSO Board of Directors June 9, 2007
SNOWMOBILING and SAFETY
The Question: How safe is snowmobiling?
CCSO Position: The position of the Canadian Council of Snowmobile Organizations on snowmobiling and safety is that snowmobiling is a safe recreational activity enjoyed by many Canadians. All snowmobilers are personally responsible for their own safety and for riding with care and control at all times, and for ensuring that accompanying children and passengers participate in a legal manner appropriate to their age and level of experience while practiced in compliance with the rules and regulations. Like any other off-road, motorized experience, snowmobiling has inherent risks, because it takes place in an unpredictable and uncontrollable natural setting that demands constant rider preparedness, vigilance, caution, unimpaired reaction and smart choice.
Backgrounder: Each winter, hundreds of thousands of Canadian snowmobilers arrive home safely after every ride. Each winter, Canadian snowmobilers travel millions of safe kilometres on advanced technology sleds built to strict standards. And each winter, Canadian snowmobile associations encourage, educate and remind snowmobilers to ride safely and responsibly, through a wide variety of provincial and national safety programs. But too often, the only coverage of snowmobiling in mainstream media occurs in the relatively few instances of tragedy. Such coverage frequently overlooks the fact that “organized snowmobiling” — volunteers, clubs and associations — have arranged, planned and structured today’s snowmobiling to provide a comparatively safe, legal riding experience for those who ride with care and control.
In most snowmobiling jurisdictions, some combination of maps, signage, markings, shelters, patrols, and maintained trails or play areas make these “organized” places the smart choice for riding. For their part, most snowmobilers are responsible family people, who take safety very seriously and choose to ride under the umbrella of organized snowmobiling by joining a club or buying a pass or permit.
For many years, organized snowmobiling has delivered such provincial programs as rider and youth training, SledSmart Teams, safety messaging, and safety partnerships. On a national scale, the CCSO and its members embrace the Safe Riders Program, which focuses on empowering snowmobilers to take individual responsibility for their actions. The CCSO also actively endorses the Zero Tolerance Program, whose slogan, “Zero Tolerance I say, ‘til I’m done for the day”, pledges no drinking and riding. All of these safety programs are showcased during our National Snowmobiling Safety Week each January. Meanwhile, organized snowmobiling in Canada was also instrumental in developing and implementing the Nationally Approved Snowmobile Hand Signals that made riding safer across North America. Organized snowmobiling delivers these and many other ongoing safety initiatives for the benefit of all riders, regardless of whether they are members or where they ride. That said, one key message from organized snowmobiling is that “Snowmobiling, like any other off-road, motorized activity, is inherently risky, taking place in an unpredictable and uncontrollable natural setting that demands constant rider preparedness, vigilance, caution, unimpaired reaction and smart choice.”
Another key message is to ride in the organized, maintained or designated places, not somewhere else, beyond the reach of organized snowmobiling. Organized snowmobiling cannot be responsible for those who ride outside of its scope, nor for those who make the irresponsible choice to ride recklessly, carelessly, negligently, or beyond their own abilities. Within this context, snowmobile safety is now universally recognized as a personal responsibility, with most incidents being predictable and preventable. Snowmobile safety data clearly indicates that it is not the sled, the activity or the setting that causes most tragedies. Rather, it is a poor choice or bad decision made by an individual: to drink and ride; to ride too fast and beyond one’s own capabilities; to ride without a helmet; to ride after dark; to travel in avalanche prone areas or across ice; to ride in contravention of existing snowmobiling laws; or to ride outside of the maintained places operated by organized snowmobiling.
There is no doubt that organized snowmobiling is committed to snowmobiling safety and getting that message out to all snowmobilers. Certainly, every snowmobiler is exposed to this safety messaging many times every season and each makes the personal decision to ride safely. So yes, snowmobiling is an enjoyable and safe recreational activity, and a great leisure past time for all Canadian families and friends.
Key Talking Points:
- Snowmobiling is a safe recreational activity for individuals who choose to ride with care and control.
- Organized snowmobiling provides comparatively safe, legal riding places for responsible riders who make the smart choice to ride there.
- Each winter, hundreds of thousands of Canadian snowmobilers arrive home safely after every ride.
- Each winter, Canadian snowmobilers travel millions of safe kilometres on sleds built to strict standards with advanced technology.
- Each winter, Canadian snowmobilers are encouraged, educated and reminded to ride safely and responsibly, through a wide variety of provincial and national safety programs.
- Snowmobile safety is now universally recognized as a personal responsibility, with most incidents being predictable and preventable.
- Like any other off-road, motorized experience, snowmobiling has inherent risks, due to its unpredictable and uncontrollable natural setting.
- As a result, snowmobiling demands constant rider preparedness, vigilance, caution, unimpaired reaction and smart choice.
- Snowmobile safety data clearly indicates that poor choices or bad decisions made by individuals cause most tragedies, not the sleds, the activity or the setting.
- The key safety messages are: Don’t drink and ride; Ride with care and control; Ride within your capabilities; Know the (ice or avalanche) conditions before you go; Never ride alone; Always obey the law; and Always wear a helmet.