Common Causes for Snowmobile Accidents
During the winter months, one thing many people look forward to doing is heading out on their snowmobiles. Over 1.2 million snowmobiles are registered in the United States and here in Michigan, there are many great places to do some snowmobiling. But just like any other type of motorized vehicle, it’s very important that people be very careful while operating them or someone could get seriously hurt.
While Michigan law requires motorcyclists to earn motorcycle endorsements for their licenses, there isn’t a similar requirement for snowmobiles. Under Michigan law, snowmobiles can be legally operated by anyone with a regular driver’s license, unless their license is suspended. They can also be operated by anyone between the ages of 12 and 17 who has a snowmobile safety certificate or who is supervised by an adult over the age of 21. Snowmobiles can also be operated by children under the age of 12 if they are being supervised by someone 21 or older and the snowmobiles are being used on property owned/controlled by a parent or guardian.
When safety courses aren’t required to operate a motor vehicle, it’s very common for people to use them in unsafe ways. During the winter spanning 2018 and 2019, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources reported 20 fatalities caused by snowmobile accidents.
Excessive speed, for example, is one of the leading causes of fatal snowmobile accidents — and it’s also one of the most preventable causes of snowmobile accidents. Some snowmobiles can reach maximum speeds of 150 MPH and the faster a snowmobile is travelling, the more difficult they are to control and the more damage they can potentially cause in an accident. High-speed snowmobile accidents tend to be more fatal for both snowmobile operators and bystanders. Even experienced snowmobilers can have an extremely difficult controlling the vehicle at speeds that high.
It’s also very common for snowmobile accidents to involve operators who were under the influence of drugs or alcohol at the time. Just as how it’s dangerous to get behind the wheel of a car after having too many drinks, driving a snowmobile while drunk can easily lead to disaster by impairing a user’s judgement or slowing down their reaction times.
Even if a safety course isn’t required to legally use a snowmobile, taking one can help save your life or the life of someone else. General user inexperience is another leading cause of snowmobile accidents and even though time is the only way to gain experience operating a snowmobile, a safety course may be able to help you avoid mistakes that could lead to a serious accident.
Snowmobiling can be a fun winter hobby, but another rider’s carelessness can result in tragedy. If you or a loved one has been injured in a snowmobile accident, don’t hesitate to get in touch with a personal injury lawyer. Snowmobiles are powerful machines and we fully understand the serious damage they can cause. At Goodwin & Scieszka, we handle a wide range of motor vehicle accident cases in the state of Michigan and can help answer any questions you have about your case. Contact us today to get started.