ALBANY — Snowmobiles are reminded to exercise caution in the aftermath of last week’s snowstorm.
Despite the large snowfalls in Western New York, snowmobile trails are not open at this time, the state Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation said in a news release.
For public safety reasons, grooming generally may not begin until the closure of big-game hunting season. Snowmobilers are advised to use restraint when operating snowmobiles before the start of the season.
Operators must always wear a helmet, stick to designated trails and avoid riding on ice.
Snowmobiles should never be ridden on ice, state officials said. All frozen bodies, regardless of rivers or lakes, are dangerous, since ice thickness is not the same and does not even form evenly all over the whole surface of water bodies.
When covered by snow, the lake’s surface may appear ridable, but it isn’t, the officials said. Ice thickness can vary on every body of water or even within the same body of water.
The presence of snowmobile tracks or footprints on the ice should not be taken as evidence of safe ice conditions. Riding on ice that is not thick enough can lead to tragedy.
New York has 10,500 miles of state-designed snowmobile trails. It is a premier destination for snowmobiling. Knowing the safety regulations and following them will help ensure riders and their families have a great time.
Everyone operating a snowmobile should be familiar with safe riding practices and all applicable laws, rules and regulations. The best way to learn is by taking a snowmobile safety course.
Before heading out, riders are reminded to check trail conditions with local snowmobile clubs. To find a club, visit www.nysnowmobile.com.
Joining a snowmobile club helps support snowmobiling in New York state. Club members receive a discounted registration fee, and help support the clubs and volunteers who make up the backbone of the New York state snowmobile trail system.
Top safety recommendations include:
n Check over your snowmobile. Make sure it is in good working order and carry emergency supplies.
n Always wear a helmet and make sure you wear the proper snowmobile gear including bibs, jackets, boots and gloves.
n Always ride with a buddy or at least one other person.
n Ride responsibly. Ride within your ability, ride to the right and operate at a safe and prudent speed at all times. Respect landowners, obey posted signs and stay on the marked trail.
n Frozen bodies of water are not designated trails; If you plan to ride on ice, proceed with caution and be aware of potential hazards under the snow. It is recommended that you wear a snowmobile suit with flotation built in and carry a set of ice picks as a precaution.
n Never drink alcohol or use drugs and ride.
The Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation (OPRHP) oversees the development, maintenance and oversight of a statewide snowmobile program, which features approximately 10,500 miles of state-designed snowmobile trails.