Earlier this season the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources held a special press conference to encourage all snowmobilers to use caution as Minnesota had already had six riders killed in crashes. That’s the same number as the entire 2021-2022 snowmobile season and double the number of the 2020-2021 season.

Now, during the final weekend of January, a Wisconsin snowmobile photo has gone viral for all the wrong reasons but hopefully, it puts the importance of trail safety back at the top of the minds of Northland snowmobilers.

Jeff Kistner originally shared the photo on the Bayfield County Snowmobile Alliance Facebook page. This is a public page where anyone can view photos and share information. The photo was then shared on the Bayfield County Government Facebook page and has continued to spread.

The photo shows the aftermath of a head-on snowmobile collision. The photo serves as a powerful reminder of the "Ride Your Side" rule, which means all drivers need to stay to the right. Jeff Kistner described what had happened:

Yesterday there was a head on collision on trail 4 south of trail 2. Both parties injured and in the hospital.
In my travels yesterday had numerous people coming around the inside of blind corners at me, and wonder how we don't have more of these. This is too common.
The majority of our trails are narrow winding woods trails with many blind corners.
Slow down, don't cut to the inside of corners, and Ride your Side. Hospital visits are not part of the fun.

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Hopefully, everyone involved in this crash has a full recovery and they are able to get out again to enjoy the trails this season.

It's worth noting the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources does have an entire page dedicated to snowmobile safety tips.

Some key things to remember each snowmobiling season include:

  • Stay on marked trails. Minnesota’s snowmobile clubs work hard to maintain good riding conditions on the state’s trails. Riders who stay on groomed trails are less likely to strike an obstacle or trespass onto private property. (Civil penalties for snowmobile trespass have doubled this year.) Riders can check trail conditions on the DNR website before heading out.
  • Don’t ride impaired. Drinking and riding is a primary cause of crashes and plays a role in about 60% of those that are fatal.
  • Watch your speed and stay to the right. Going too fast is another main cause of crashes. Many serious and fatal crashes occur when a speeding snowmobiler loses control or strikes an object. When meeting another snowmobile, always slow down and stay to the right.
  • Be careful on the ice. In recent years, nearly every through-the-ice fatality has involved people who were riding a snowmobile or all-terrain vehicle when they fell through. There must be at least 5 to 7 inches of new, clear ice to support the weight of a snowmobile and rider. Check the ice thickness as you go.
  • Take a snowmobile safety course. It’s required of anyone born after 1976 and recommended for everyone. People with snowmobile safety certification are less likely to be involved in serious or fatal crashes.

Things To Consider Packing For A Snowmobile Trip

Sure - you've covered the basics: Hats, gloves, jackets, boots. But there are plenty of other items that you should consider packing for the snowmobile trail - from the necessities to 'creature comforts'.

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Keep reading to find out individual state records in alphabetical order.

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