The Ontario Provincial Police reports that 14 people have died so far this winter in snowmobile accidents, up from eight people during the same time period last year.
Sgt. Peter Leon, media relations coordinator for the OPP, said the increase is likely connected to the general lack of snowfall last winter, which kept many people from using their vehicles.
This year, there is “tons of snow” up north, he said.
Leon said “the simple rules of snowmobiling are not being followed,” which leads to accidents and deaths.
The OPP reports that drivers often go off trails, exceed the 50 kilometres per hour speed limit, drive under the influence, or don’t use the trails properly, resulting in head-on collisions. Other accidents include crashes with cars and other vehicles, and snowmobiles falling through thin ice.
When snowmobiling, riders must have respect for their environment and other people out on the trails, Leon said. Drivers who use the trails at night must reduce their speeds to avoid accidents.
“Just last night (Sunday), where I live, I could hear them out there using the snow machines, but I could hardly see past the end of my driveway,” he said.
“Don’t drink and sled,” Leon said. “The same rules and penalties apply as for drivers. You don’t need to make it worse by adding alcohol into the equation. One person’s actions can ruin it for everyone else.”
OPP deputy commissioner Brad Blair said the “vast majority of these incidents are not random ‘accidents’ that can happen to just any snowmobiler.”
“Somewhere along the way, a risk was taken or an error in judgment was made,” he said in a statement.
The most recent snowmobile death occurred last Wednesday in Huntsville.
On Feb. 8, just after 7 p.m., emergency crews were called to a collision on West Browns Rd., where a snowmobile and a Subaru collided head on, police said Monday.
The Subaru caught fire, while the snowmobile operator, Michael Decker, 60, was pronounced dead on scene.
The 53-year-old female driver of the Subaru was taken to hospital and has since been released.
An investigation is ongoing, the statement said.
Earlier this month, an 11-year-old girl died after being hit by a transport truck as she was crossing a major highway on her snowmobile.