Snowmobiling education important for safer trails, says snowmobile federation

Snowmobile federation says more education and enforcement needed on trails following near miss near Corner Brook.

Following a close call on the snowmobile trails near Corner Brook earlier this month, the Newfoundland and Labrador Snowmobile Federation says reckless driving is common and more people need to learn the rules of the trails.

“I think it happens more than we would like to realize,” Ben Fitzgerald, the federation’s general manager, told the Corner Brook Morning Show.

“The last thing you want to hear about is a tragedy on your trail system.”

Christopher and Caylen Tourout

Christopher Tourout and his brother Caylen, 8, narrowly avoided a collision earlier this month with another snowmobile. (Submitted)

Two brothers walked away from a near collision in early January after a snowmobile that “came out of nowhere” struck the machine they were travelling on damaging it.

“How often does somebody recklessly drive and, in the middle of a landing [after taking a jump], have someone underneath them?” he said. “It’s pretty rare, but the reckless driving part, I think it’s more common.”

Christopher Tourout snowmobile damage

Christopher Tourout shared this photo of his damaged snowmobile following an incident earlier this month where another machine collided with him on a trail near Corner Brook. (Submitted)

Fitzgerald says there can’t be enforcement on every turn on the trail, so snowmobilers need to be better educated about trail etiquette.

“It’s the same as drinking and driving. We can’t prevent it, we can only educate,” Fitzgerald said. “I always tell anybody operating any vehicle, ‘At the end of the day, we can only control what we do.'”


Snowmobile Federation General Manager Ben Fitzgerald says show extra vigilance near blind hills. (Courtesy: NLSF)

Fitzgerald says people should always be extra vigilant around blind hills, stay to the right and avoid drifting to the middle of the trail.

Safety course

The snowmobile federation does provide a safety course tailored mainly towards enforcement officials and government workers, but it is planning to tweak it for families as well.

“At the end of the day, someone who can afford a 10-15K snowmobile to give to their child [could afford] a hundred dollars for a training course that’s going to probably save their life,” Fitzgerald said.


Fitzgerald says there will be more of an enforcement presence on the trails this year. (CBC)

Fitzgerald says he has it in writing from Justice Minister Andrew Parsons that there is going to be more enforcement on the trails this year.

“Not to be out trying to find the violators, but to promote trail safety and to be present,” Fitzgerald said, “I think the presence alone keeps people cognizant of the fact that they have to ride with the rules in mind.”


Article Source: CBC

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