Michigan Agency Conducting Snowmobile Patrols

During the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday weekend alone, five snowmobilers died in the state. So far this winter, nine snowmobilers have died in Michigan.

Conservation officers with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources are conducting safety and enforcement patrols this winter and contacting snowmobile riders. During the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday weekend alone, five snowmobilers died in the state -- two snowmobilers in Gogebic County and one each in Luce, Alger, and Kalkaska counties. So far this winter, nine snowmobilers have died in the state, according to DNR, which reported the statewide snowmobile fatality total for the entire winter of 2017-2018 was 15.

"This recent rash of deadly crashes illustrates the critical importance of snowmobile safety," Lt. Ryan Aho, a DNR district law supervisor in Marquette, said Jan. 22. "Many fatalities occur because of drinking and driving, high speed, or carelessness, all of which are preventable actions."

DNR is partnering with the Michigan Snowmobile Association and other organizations on a "Ride Right" safety campaign this winter. During contacts with officers and through public service announcements and press materials, riders are being reminded to ride on the right side of the trail, at a safe speed, and sober and also to anticipate and yield to trail groomers.

"There are a lot of factors that could play into the high number of fatal snowmobile crashes we've had during this early part of the winter," said John Pepin, DNR's deputy public information officer. "But whether it's because of good snow concentrating riders in certain parts of the state, unfamiliarity with local trails, or speed, recklessness, or alcohol, all of these things underscore the importance of riding safely and riding right."

DNR conservation officers on patrol have been writing tickets and providing safety tips to riders. Aho said officers talked with snowmobilers, checked registrations and trail permits, looked for equipment violations, and tested snowmobiles for noise level emissions.

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