Every winter, RCMP officers are called to scenes where snowmobilers have been badly injured or have lost their lives. This past month alone, two lives have already been lost on snowmobiles in Manitoba. In 2020, eight Manitobans died in snowmobile collisions.
Manitoba RCMP want everyone to ride safe while enjoying the outdoors so they make it home safely to their families:
- Know your abilities and ride within your limits. This will allow you to always be in control of your snowmobile.
- Always check the weather conditions before you leave.
- Always ride in groups and let people know where you’re going, the route you will be taking, and when you expect to return.
- Always wear protective clothing, including a helmet, gloves, and eye protection. Wear layers of clothing to keep warm and dry.
- When possible, avoid crossing bodies of water. If you are crossing bodies of water, be cautious of ice thickness, never ride in single file, and wear a life jacket over your outer clothing.
- Ride sober. Don’t drink or consume drugs before or while snowmobiling.
Additionally, when operating a snowmobile or off-road vehicle on public land (ditches, Crown Land, roads, groomed snowmobile trails, etc.) please remember that the following laws apply:
- It must be registered;
- Must be at least 14 years of age to operate without supervision;
- 12-13 year-olds must only operate under the direct supervision (within direct sight) of a parent;
- Must be at least 16 years of age and possess a valid driver’s licence in order to operate across a roadway or shoulder;
- Must not operate with more passengers than it is designed to carry;
- Everyone riding must wear an approved helmet, unless: The ORV is equipped with occupant roll-over protection and seat belts, and the seat belts are being used, or the ORV is being used for farming, commercial fishing, hunting or trapping operations;
- Must not operate on roadway or shoulder (see Section 34 of the Off-Road Vehicle Act for exceptions for agricultural purposes)
- May only cross a roadway or shoulder at an intersection or designated crossing such as a snowmobile trail crossing, and must hold a valid driver’s licence (see Section 35 of the Off-Road Vehicle Act);
- Must not carry open liquor or cannabis;
- Must operate in a safe and prudent manner;
- Must have headlights and tail lights on from 30 minutes prior to sunset until 30 minutes after sunrise.
- When operating on private land (yards, farm land, pasture land, etc.):
- Ensure you have permission of the land owner;
- While some provincial laws such as the Off-Road Vehicle Act do not apply to private property, the Criminal Code of Canada does. Therefore, operating an ORV while impaired or with a blood alcohol concentration or blood drug concentration over the legal limit is a criminal offence, as is operating an ORV in a dangerous manner.
“In the past five years, Manitoba RCMP have responded to 23 fatal snowmobile collisions where 65% involved alcohol and/or drugs,” said Staff Sergeant Kyle McFadyen of Selkirk RCMP. “In 15 of the 23 fatal collisions, the operator was found to be driving too fast and either lost control or struck an object. Of those killed in collisions, eight were not wearing a helmet. All of these deaths could have been prevented.”