Snowmobile safety courses remain available
√ Sledders reminded to use COVID-19 safety measures at trailheads, during breaks
As the snowmobiling season begins, New York state urges riders to keep safety in mind, both when operating on trails and during any breaks with fellow riders.
As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, snowmobile safety courses continue to be offered, with more than 100 registered classes available. An online list of open classes can be found here. Successful completion of this course results in the issuance of a state snowmobile safety certificate, which is required for youth between ages 10 and 18 to operate a snowmobile.
A press release noted, “All riders can benefit from a course that provides fundamental information, which everyone needs to ensure the safety of both rider and other trail users.”
State Park Police, State Troopers, Environmental Conservation Police officers, forest rangers and local enforcement agencies enforce state laws on snowmobile trails, including instances of unsafe or reckless operation, speed limits including the state's maximum speed of 55 mph, and operating while intoxicated.
Those rules apply on all local and club trails, as well as the statewide trail system, which traverses 45 counties and includes lands under the jurisdiction of state offices of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation and Department of Environmental Conservation, the New York State Canal Corp., local governments, and many private landowners.
"Park Police are here to remind snowmobilers – especially those that may be new to the sport – of safe operating practices; and that reckless operation, speeding and operating while impaired or intoxicated present significant and serious risks to all trail users. Rules will be strictly enforced by law enforcement," said Acting Assistant Director of Law Enforcement Maj. Michael Pavelock. "While outside riding is a safe activity during this pandemic, snowmobilers should be aware that, for off-trail visits to restaurants and other establishments, the new COVID-19 safety protocols announced by Gov. Hochul require that masks are required to be worn in all indoor public places unless the business or venue implements a proof of vaccine requirement.”
A Park Police snowmobile safety video is available here.
State Police Superintendent Kevin P. Bruen said, “Soon winter sports season will be in full swing, and we want snowmobile enthusiasts to take advantage of the beautiful trails in our great state. However, every winter there are needless tragedies and a wake of victims left behind because of the decisions made by impaired drivers. There is no excuse for operating any motorized vehicle or device while impaired whether it be a vehicle, snowmobile, boat or ATV. By making responsible and safe choices, New Yorkers can do their part to keep our trails safe and enjoyable for all this winter.”
DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos said, "Each year, snowmobile enthusiasts visit New York’s thousands of miles of trails statewide to enjoy this popular winter activity in the great outdoors. I join our partners at State Parks and the New York State Police in reminding riders to ride responsibly and safely by taking the proper precautions and never getting on a snowmobile impaired by alcohol or drugs. Even experienced riders can benefit from taking a snowmobile safety course to protect themselves and others, especially on remote, backcountry trails that are generally narrower than trails on private lands.”
The New York State Department of Motor Vehicles reminds New Yorkers to register their snowmobiles before hitting the trails. Snowmobile registrations must be renewed annually and may be renewed online on the DMV website.
DMV Commissioner Mark J.F. Schroeder said, “For those taking advantage of New York’s beautiful trails, I hope you have a safe and fun season. As a reminder, when operating a snowmobile in New York, you are legally required to wear a helmet and to never operate a snowmobile while impaired.”
Recommendations for safe riding include:
√ Prior to starting your ride, check over the snowmobile to make sure it is in good working order and carry emergency supplies.
√ Always wear a DOT- or SNELL-approved helmet, and make sure to wear the proper snowmobile gear, including bibs, jackets, boots and gloves.
√ Always ride with a buddy or at least one other person.
√ Ride responsibly and within your abilities.
√ Always ride to the right side of the trail especially at hill crests and curves.
√ Operate at a speed that is safe and prudent for the given conditions.
√ Respect landowners, obey posted signs, and stay on the marked trail.
√ Frozen bodies of water are not designated trails. If planning to ride on ice, proceed with caution and be aware of potential hazards under the snow. Consider wearing a snowmobile suit with flotation built-in, and carry a set of ice picks as a precaution.
√ Never drink alcohol or use drugs and ride.
For more information on snowmobiling in New York, visit https://parks.ny.gov/recreation/snowmobiles.
New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation oversees more than 250 individual parks, historic sites, recreational trails, and boat launches. For more information on any of these recreation areas, call 518-474-0456 or visit parks.ny.gov.