Ride Safe on your Snowmobile!
Operating a snowmobile can be very rewarding, giving you the chance to see and experience many areas of the state that often aren’t accessible during our cold winters, but don’t become a statistic! The New Hampshire Fish and Game Department urges all snow machine riders to review safety precautions and ride responsibly.
Following are some key snowmobile safety reminders:
- Most important, be prepared for extreme conditions. Cold temperatures can be dangerous, so wear clothing that is appropriate for your winter activities.
- Know your abilities and understand the capabilities of your snowmobile. Every operator and every machine have different capabilities. Identify these levels and stay below them, and you are virtually guaranteed of having a safe and enjoyable ride.
- Remember trail conditions are forever changing, so make sure that you operate at a speed that is reasonable for the existing conditions. For example, at night or when operating in other low-visibility conditions, reduce your speed so that you can identify and avoid sudden hazards on the trail or lake. Always be aware of the conditions of the trail or frozen body of water when operating a snowmobile.
- Don’t Drink and Ride. Never operate a snowmobile after drinking alcohol. New Hampshire has strict laws prohibiting operating any type of recreational vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. If you take the chance, you will lose your privileges to operate any type of recreational vehicle or motor vehicle and pay substantial fines. The Fish and Game Department and the New Hampshire Snowmobile Association continue to promote zero tolerance while operating a snowmobile.
- Be especially careful on winter weekends that draw large crowds outdoors, such as the Annual Meredith Rotary Club Fishing Derby in February, which brings thousands of anglers out onto New Hampshire’s lakes.
- Always be careful to test ice safety, even freezing temperatures have occurred. Many factors affect how ice freezes, so ice thickness will not be same throughout a lake. Always check the thickness and condition of the ice before going out and while you are heading to your secret ice-fishing spot. Avoid inlets and outlets and other areas of the lake where there is current, such as springs or natural formations. The ice in these areas will be thinner and not as strong. Avoid objects embedded in the ice; these warm as they attract sunlight, weakening the ice. (Click here for the brochure, “Safety on Ice.”)
- Skimming is illegal! The dangerous practice of operating snowmobiles on open water or "skimming" is illegal in New Hampshire.
“Snowmobile safety is all about personal responsibilty,” says Capt. John Wimsatt, coordinator of Fish and Game’s Off-Highway Recreational Vehicle (OHRV) Program. “Accidents are usually caused by people driving carelessly, too fast, beyond their skill level, or under the influence of alcohol. Combine one or more of those factors with iffy ice and trail conditions, and things can go very wrong.”
So be smart -- use caution and common sense, and you’ll have a memorable and safe winter adventure on your snow machine.