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Snowmobile Safety Course Is Worth The Time

CASSADAGA – It’s almost January, and do you know what that means?

No, not the conclusion of Christmas, but the beginning of the snowmobile season.

Which here paradoxically is shorter than the boating season.

Yes, it really is: As long as winter can seem in these parts, the snowmobile season is shorter than the boating season.

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On a snowmobile you’ll see parts of this beautiful region that you’ve never seen in this way. It’s just astounding.

To enhance your enjoyment of the sport, there are many things you should do. One of them is to take the snowmobile-safety course that several snowmobile clubs offer over the course of the fall and winter.

It will take most of a Saturday morning and afternoon, and it’s well worth the time. It’s also free.

The course is taught by a team of instructors whose passion for the sport is obvious. They want people to enjoy it, and they want people to enjoy it safely.

Most of those taking the course on Thanksgiving weekend were aged 10 to 17. According to the course workbook, in New York:

¯ Those aged 14 to 17 who have successfully taken the course may operate a snowmobile without supervision.

¯ Those aged 14 to 17 who haven’t successfully taken the course may operate a snowmobile if they’re accompanied within 500 feet by an adult.

¯ Those aged 10 to 13 who have successfully taken the course may operate a snowmobile if they’re accompanied within 500 feet by an adult.

¯ Those who are under 10, or who are under 14 and haven’t successfully taken the course, may operate a snowmobile only on land owned by a parent or guardian.

The course, though, is for adults too.

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Among what you’ll learn in a snowmobile-safety course are:

¯ Be respectful of those who own the land that the snowmobile trails cross. Although some of the land is publicly owned, much of it is privately owned. The trails cross the land at the landowners’ permission. So be grateful to the landowners. Don’t damage the trails or their surroundings. Don’t litter. In short, don’t be the person who isn’t respectful of landowners and prompts them to close their part of a trail.

¯ Be grateful to the trail groomers as well. They love what they’re doing, they work hard, and they’re volunteers.

¯ Don’t operate a snowmobile while under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

¯ Snowmobiles can be ridden when the ground has three inches of packed snow. Three feet of powder pack down to three inches.

¯ Let someone know where you’re going and when you expect to return. If you don’t return home and you’re in trouble, people need to know where to look for you. They can’t know that if you haven’t told anyone.

¯ Before going, sleep and eat well, and drink plenty of water.

¯ Wear and buckle your helmet.

¯ Don’t wear a scarf. You don’t want it to snag on a tree. That won’t end well.

¯ Good sunglasses protect your eyes from ultraviolet rays.

¯ Take a telephone and a map.

¯ Snowmobilers yield to everyone else.

¯ The speed limit is 55 miles per hour.

¯ Don’t operate a snowmobile on limited-access highways, or on the tracks of a working railroad.

¯ Stay off of frozen lakes. The surfaces are uneven. And springs and uneven freezing make the surfaces dangerous. If you go through the ice, you may well lose your sled. And you might lose more than that.

There’s much more than fits into this column.

So take the snowmobile-safety course. You’ll be glad you did.

Randy Elf’s first time on a snowmobile was in 2022.

COPYRIGHT ç 2022 BY RANDY ELF

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