The start of a new snowmobile season is upon us. The days are getting shorter and the nights colder. I want to start by thanking all of our volunteer safety instructors. During the 2017-2018 snowmobile season there were 22 safety classes taught throughout the state and just over the border in neighboring states as well. For the first time in New Hampshire’s history we had no reported fatalities for the 2017-2018 riding season! On average there are five fatalities annually. Here are some of the NH snowmobile safety statistics for the riding season (September-April):
2018 NH Snowmobile Safety Statistics
- 22 safety classes taught
- 1,408 students certified
- 718 classroom, 690 online
- 41 reported accidents
- No fatalities
- 49 vehicles involved
- 28 people injured
Accidents on Friday and Saturday
According to 2018 NH snowmobile safety statistics most of the reported accidents accrued in Coos County (22) with Grafton (5) and Carroll (5) just behind. Most of those accidents were in clear weather during daylight hours. Most occurred on Saturdays with Fridays a close second. Residents to non-residents was split 50/50 with males (34) and females (15).
Age Group Statistics Surprise
The age group with the most reported accidents is 50-59-year-olds followed by those in the 30-39 age group. There were no reported accidents involving children under the age of 15.
Safe trails are a goal we can all work to achieve. I wrote an article last year about the benefits of everyone taking a safety class. As you can see from the numbers it’s not the kids crashing and banging. The knowledge that volunteer instructors can pass-on could save your life.
Safety is a yearlong commitment. It starts now with signing up for a class and getting your machine(s) registered for the season which can be done any time after June, as the new registration year starts July 1. You should also do a preseason sled inspection or have one of the dealers do it for you. Enjoy the riding season, be as safe as possible.
Become A Safety Instructor
Have you ever considered becoming a safety instructor? The flagship of the safety program is the classes held in or around the state by the volunteer instructors. Many clubs have formed great instructor teams and hold one or more classes a year. Currently the split of classroom-vs-online training is 30/70%. These percentages reflect courses taken from September 1 through April 30. The ratio is weighted differently during the actual snowmobile season.
The highest numbers of students that take the online course is during January and February when most of the instructors and club members are out enjoying the trails. The highest number of students that attend a classroom course is the first full weekend of December. There are more than 10 courses offered throughout the weekend all over the state. The need for courses is ongoing. Again, if you have never taken a class I highly recommend signing up.
As many of you know, conservation officers attend the classes to go over the laws and rules. This gives the opportunity for the students, parents, grandparents, and others attending to ask questions and get the right answers.
One of the questions that keeps coming up is the use of “countdown” hand signals and yellow/green lights warning oncoming riders. An article written last year by Captain Dave Walsh touched on this very issue. There are no laws pertaining to the use of hand signals and we still stand by saying “keep your hands on the handlebars and the only lights you need to worry about are flashing blue ones.” You may signal what you think is behind you but do you really know? Every rider should be thinking that there is an animal, downed tree, sled or groomer around the next corner! Keep the speeds down so that you have control of the sled at all times. Last season we had a few accidents that involved groomers struck by sleds. Please remember to share the trails, there are hundreds, if not thousands of riders on the trails.
Keep Momentum Going
As we get ready for the season please think safety at all times. Things can happen in the blink of an eye and you don’t want to be the one placing a phone call or picking up the phone to be told there has been an accident. If everyone does their part we can keep the momentum going that we started last year. Ride Safe!