OPP launch safe sledding week
By Chad Ingram
The OPP and the Ontario Federation of Snowmobile Clubs (OFSC) are launching what they're calling Provincial Snowmobile Safety Week from Jan. 16 to 24.
The idea is to remind snowmobilers to focus on their own safety, as well as the safety as others.
“With the campaign getting underway this weekend, the OPP and OFSC are reminding snowmobile enthusiasts to stay off the lakes and waterways for the time being as conditions are generally poor in many parts of the province,” a release reads.
Riders are encouraged to stay on trails prescribed by the OFSC and to refrain from speeding, riding after dark and of course riding while impaired.
The OPP investigated 15 snowmobile-related deaths last winter, a decrease from the two preceding seasons.
During the winter of 2013-2014 there were 21 snowmobile-related deaths in Ontario, 18 during the 2012-2013 season.
According to police, 58 per cent of snowmobile-related fatalities involve alcohol or drugs; 57 per cent involve speeding or driving too fast for conditions; and 58 per cent take place at dusk or after dark.
“In particular, the OPP and OFSC are looking to middle-aged males to ride with extra care and control this winter as 87 per cent of last season’s snowmobile-related fatalities involved male riders and 58 per cent were riders or passengers between the ages of 35 and 54,” the release reads.
Snowmobilers are advised to avoid road-running wherever possible.
Where it is necessary to ride along the side of a public road (this is legal in most areas in the province), riders are reminded to watch out for parked vehicles and vehicles emerging from driveways, give cars the right of way, be particularly cautious when approaching intersections, obey all traffic signs and slow down if their view is obstructed by snow banks.
Motorists are reminded to be vigilant of snowmobilers this time of year.
Tips on safe snowmobiling from the province can be found at http://www.mto.gov.on.ca/english/dandv/driver/handbook/section18.104.22.168.shtml
To find out which trails are open in Haliburton County, visit the Haliburton County Snowmobile Association's website at www.hcsa.ca.
There have been two serious snowmobile crashes in the county in recent days.
On Jan. 17, 1 41-year-old local man was airlifted to hospital in Toronto after an accident and on Jan. 18, a 51-year-old Tillsonburg man was killed when his sled crossed into the intersection of Francis Road along the Rail Trail in Gelert, striking a pickup truck.