CLEAR LAKE, Iowa - It’s a popular winter sport, but recently, we have been reminded that snowmobiling can also be very dangerous.
On Wednesday, a 13-year-old boy died while snowmobiling near the town of Fonda in northwest Iowa.
Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR) officials say that tragedies like this can serve as a reminder to others to use caution on the trails.
Rod Woken, a snowmobiler and fisherman visiting Clear Lake said that he has been riding for a number of years and has always practiced safety while out on the trails or on the ice.
His cautious decisions come after an incident he witnessed that put all of his safety measures into perspective.
“We were fishing tournament up in Okoboji a couple of weeks ago,” Woken said, “and had a scary incident with a guy in an ATV. He ramped off of a snowdrift and ended up with a concussion, so that kind of emphasized to me how important helmets are.”
Helmets aren’t the only safety accessory that can keep you safe while you’re out cruising around.
Adhering to posted signs, trail markers and any off limit areas, like private property will also keep you our of harm’s way, but this isn’t always something people think to do.
However, conservation officer for the Iowa DNR, Ken Lonneman says that overall, this year has been better than others when it comes to snowmobile accidents.
With laws changing constantly in Iowa about what proper gear is required for hitting the trails, Lonneman says that the riders he sees and pulls over are more likely than not, putting safety as their top priority.
“I can tell you that almost 100 percent of snowmobilers we check are wearing safety equipment, especially the helmets,” he said.
Officials like Lonneman say that wearing proper head gear and the proper snow and riding outfit will help keep you safe while you’re out curing your cabin fever.
Other tips for staying safe out on the trails would be to remember right-of-ways at all intersections and practice proper etiquette for passing other snowmobilers while out on the trails.