This article originally appeared in the Colorado Snowmobile Association newspaper, Snowmobile Scoop.

Making Good Decisions
Stan Gale- Safety Team member

Summer has turned quickly into winter and most of us will have been riding our machines by the time this safety article reaches you. This season already looks to be a good one, and our decisions NOW will make this winter’s snowmobiling enjoyable and safe for everyone. Because we never ride alone, our decisions and conduct directly affect the group experience. In a short moment a beautiful day can turn into an upsetting experience. 

That is why our decisions need to be well thought out, and the decision making process should start before we start the engine! Consider for a moment that we would never allow a child or young adolescent to steer and throttle a motorcycle and certainly not carry an extra rider on the back. These modern machines accelerate fast, are weighty, and designed to be ridden by adults who have a driver’s license! 

The same safety principles and considerations should apply to letting a youngster operate a snowmobile, because in essence, it is a powerful “snow motorcycle.” Far too often I have seen youngsters on snowmobiles sitting in front of an adult steering the machine and also operating the throttle. Doing so is a recipe for disaster! Sooner or later something unexpected and regretful is likely happen. 

The consequences of crashing or overturning the snowmobile with two riders or getting pinned underneath and being injured are simply not worth the risk! We adults and parents set the example from the get go, and one option might be to find a youth snowmobile track with a lighter and smaller youth machine designed to be ridden by a youngster. Be safe rather than sorry and think hard on this…

What do you need to be comfortable, safe, and warm, if your snowmobile has a mechanical breakdown far from the trailhead? It is uncomplicated to come up with your own list or talk about this with your buddies or snowmobile club members. My safety “overnight” and bivy pack always gets strapped onto my sled first thing, and it includes a flare. I hope I never need to use it, but just as I have a full tank of gas, I am well prepared. I would no sooner hop into a canoe or boat without a proper life preserver than ride without a back up plan or safety pack.

By making good decisions we set an example for others to follow and prevent accidents and injury from ever happening. It is so easy to do. See you in the snow, somewhere and have safe and great family fun!