There are a total of 9,991 miles of trails in the NYS Snowmobile Trail System that come under funding and regulations of the Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation. In the last season there were 116,725 NYS snowmobile registrations and 1.65 reported accidents per 1,000 registrations, with 14 fatalities.
According to the OPRHP, during the 2012/13 snowmobile season the major causes of snowmobile accidents were excessive speed and intoxication. The law states that a snowmobile accident involving bodily injury or property damage of $1,000 or more must be reported to the local law enforcement agency and the OPRHP.
From my observations of debris left along the trails, I believe many accidents go unreported.
Most of the accidents are attributed to excessive speed, which is also a side effect of intoxication. Risk taking, lack of inhibition, slow reaction time and lack of coordination are all part of the affect of alcohol on the brain.
The majority of snowmobilers appreciate the sport in a healthy way and enjoy the fresh air, beautiful scenery, and being with friends and family. Yet it only takes one person's bad choice to ruin the fun forever.
The OPRHP funds snowmobile safety courses each year that are provided by local snowmobile clubs and associations. The OPRHP states that it also supports the International Association of Snowmobile Administrators' Zero Alcohol Campaign.
We also have a new non-profit group in NYS, called "Ride Clean NY." Its mission is to promote awareness about drinking and riding.
Please pass on the message that speed and alcohol or drugs make snowmobiling dangerous for everyone on the trail. Make sure to take a Snowmobile Safety Course that most clubs sponsor and help support Ride Clean NY as well as the Zero Alcohol Campaign of NYS OPRHP.
Four Rivers Alliance of Hamilton County