In Canada there are roughly 600,000 snowmobiles registered – one for every 60 Canadians. While this recreational activity can be a great way to explore the outdoors with family and friends in the winter months, it is crucial owners and drivers remember the risks involved. As records indicate snowmobile accidents doubled in 2017 from the previous year, safety concerns are on the rise.
Commonly weighing over 500 pounds and capable of speeds reaching over 100km/hour, snowmobiles traveling on icy, snowy or slushy roads and frozen waterways are at an increased risk of an accident that can lead to severe injuries, damages and costs.
OPP Deputy Commissioner Brad Blair reinforces this notion through a statement he made after viewing the data that showed many of those involved in snowmobile accidents were men in their fifties and sixties: “What snowmobilers and their families need to take away from this is that even those with considerable driving experience — be it on a snowmobile or in a road vehicle — are equally vulnerable to the inherent risks associated with this popular, yet high-risk recreational sport.”
The most common accidents occur due to:
- Drivers going off trails or not using trails properly
- Exceeding the 50km speed limit
- Driving under the influence
- Driver inattention
- Snowmobiles falling through thin ice when driving on frozen waterways
- Crashes with cars and other vehicles when snowmobiles are crossing roadways
The most common injuries sustained from snowmobile accidents are orthopaedic injuries (broken bones) and head or brain injuries. The Canadian Council of Snowmobile Organizations (CCSO) reports that it believes there is a link between raising safety awareness among snowmobilers and decreasing fatalities.
The following are tips to remember while driving to ensure safety.
- Always drive within your ability
- Take extra care on corners and hills
- Obey speed limits and road/trail signs
- Always stay on the right-hand side of the trail
- Use appropriate hand signals before stopping, slowing down or turning
- When driving at night – reduce speed, use headlights, wear reflective clothing
- When driving on ice – avoid driving on unfamiliar frozen lakes and rivers, as open water may not be visible, drive on ice that is new, hard and clear, never drive on ice that is slushy, weak, or near moving water
However due to the nature of the activity accidents do occur. If you are involved in a snowmobile accident, you may be entitled to Statutory Accident Benefits (SABs) – This compensation would be part of your insurance policy and would cover costs related to injury, income loss and medical expenses as a result of the injuries sustained in the accident.
If an accident is not your fault you could be entitled to a Tort Claim – This claim is brought forward by a victim, the injured party, seeking compensation from the person liable for their injuries or damages and allows them to recover compensation for expenses which may arise due to injuries, income loss or the loss of opportunity to earn future or past income, and pain and suffering.
Like a car accident a snowmobile accident can be very traumatic and can lead to major losses causing both physical and psychological distress. If you’ve been involved in a snowmobile accident, contact the lawyers at Pace Law Firm. We are equipped to handle these cases and guide victims through this difficult process.