Snowmobiling is fun but it can also be dangerous, especially for children. According to Statistics Canada, on average 73 people are killed each year while riding on a snowmobile.
Snowmobile rider deaths are most commonly caused by a collision with an object. Fatal snowmobile incidents often involve alcohol and drug use, excessive speeding, and riding at night.
- Every rider should wear a snowmobile helmet on every trip.
- Children under the age of 16 should not drive a snowmobile.
- Children under age six should not ride as passengers on snowmobiles.
- Snowmobile drivers should receive instruction in the safe operation of their machine by an instructor. Contact your provincial or territorial snowmobile association.
- Ride on trails that enforce rules and promote safe driving.
- Never tow a person behind a snowmobile.
- Always ride sober. Avoid driving after consuming alcohol or drugs.
- Control your speed. Excessive speed is a major risk factor for snowmobile-related deaths.
- Cross roads carefully where permitted. Collisions between snowmobiles and other motor vehicles most commonly happen at intersections between trails and roads.
- When riding in mountain areas, check avalanche bulletins ahead of time, carry avalanche-specific safety equipment, and never travel alone.
For more information, contact your provincial or territorial snowmobile association, Ministry of Transportation or The Canadian Council of Snowmobile Organizations at 807-345-5299.
Children and snowmobiles
According to the Canadian Hospital Injury Reporting and Prevention Program, the main causes of emergency department visits for snowmobile-related injuries among children aged 11 and under are rolling over and falling off of the snowmobile. Children have also been seriously injured as passengers or while being towed behind a snowmobile in a tube or sled.
Snowmobiles are powerful and heavy machines, weighing up to 270 kg (600 lb) and reaching speeds of more than 100 km/h. The size and power of snowmobiles make them inappropriate for a child’s smaller body size.
Manufacturers make “kid-sized” snowmobiles but paediatric injury experts warn against using these machines. Regardless of a child’s size, their motor skills, perception, field of vision and judgment capabilities aren’t equal to an adult’s. These differences in development are the reason we have a legal driving age for motor vehicles on our public roads.