It is winter. It’s snowing. It’s Wisconsin. That must mean it’s time to go snowmobiling.
Snowmobiling is a fun way for people of all ages to enjoy Wisconsin’s winter weather.
But, mix snowmobiles with excessive speed, alcohol, and inexperience and fun quickly can turn into a painful, and sometimes life-threatening, injuries.
According to a report in the Emergency Trauma Journal published in July 2019, there are approximately 200 fatal snowmobile accidents and 14,000 crashes that cause injury in the United States every year.
Over a third of the non-life-threatening injuries require more than 5 days in the hospital. The Journal of Orthopaedic Trauma reports the most common orthopedic injuries as:
• Soft tissue injuries
• Open fractures
• Ligament injuries in the knees
• Muscle compartment syndrome
• Dislocated shoulders
• Injuries to the head, abdomen, and chest
Riders can avoid most snowmobile injuries by slowing down; obeying the laws, safety rules, and regulations; getting certified; and choosing not to operate a snowmobile under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
According to the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources the top-five contributing conditions for snowmobile accidents are:
• Trail conditions
• Operator error
• Operator inexperience
• Drugs or alcohol
To reduce the risk of snowmobile accidents, the State of Wisconsin requires any person who is 12 years of age and older to complete a snowmobile safety course and receive a certificate before operating a snowmobile. Operators must carry their certificates while riding and display it to law enforcement officers upon request.
Journal of Orthopaedic Trauma