Press Release –
As the world’s largest snowmobiling association, the Ontario Federation of Snowmobile Clubs (OFSC) celebrates Provincial Go Snowmobiling Safety Week, January 14 to 20, by reaffirming that OFSC Prescribed Trails remain the safest place to ride a snowmobile.
Responsible snowmobilers, who ride with care and control on open OFSC trails account for less than 5% of snowmobile fatalities. However, with winter’s late start, the Federation is also warning snowmobilers that early season riding on unopened snowmobile trails or on newly formed ice is a very dangerous.
“With winter starting late, we are very concerned that snowmobilers, over eager for their first ride of the season, will take unnecessary and potentially lethal risks, that can be largely avoided by simply waiting a little longer,” said Bill Harrison, OFSC Manager, Safety and Public Education. “We urge everyone to check for open trails at www.ofsc.on.ca before riding, and to stay off all ice at this time.”
Harrison attributes the widespread safety of riding open OFSC trails to the efforts of club volunteers, to the OFSC’s Strategic Safety Management Plan and to the OFSC’s sustained safety and public education campaign, now operating under the slogan “Safe Riders! You Make Snowmobiling Safe.” Since 1993, the OFSC has been in the face of snowmobilers with hard-hitting and blunt safety messaging, and Harrison believes they are hearing that message loud and clear, and responding by becoming better trail riders.
“The OFSC has widely and frequently published its ‘Assumptions for OFSC Trail Use’ so that riders know exactly what behaviour is acceptable on our trails, and has also strongly promoted safety as integral to the snowmobiling lifestyle,” Harrison stated. “We’ve consistently delivered this message through a unique, province-wide network of radio, television and print media partners who support the cause of snowmobile safety.”
Harrison says that the most fatalities are predictable and preventable, happening off trail and often at night, in places where collisions are statistically most likely to occur — especially on public roads, on unmarked frozen waterways and in unsafe early season conditions. Excessive speed remains a significant factor in snowmobile incidents and Harrison also notes that almost 60% of fatalities involve riding too fast.
“I think part of our success in reducing on-trail snowmobiling fatalities is also attributable to our Snowmobile Trail Officer Patrol (S.T.O.P.) and Trail Patrol Programs, which put trained OFSC enforcement volunteers on our trails. Another key factor is our longstanding Driver Training Program, which has graduated over 191,000 students since its inception in 1976,“ concluded Harrison. “These trainees are now active snowmobilers themselves, practicing safe trail riding and passing their learned habits on to their own kids. As an in-home training tool, many parents are also ordering the OFSC’s Smart Choices DVD which is specifically geared to young teens.”
For the 2006/07 season, the OFSC is targeting the hard core demographic of male riders aged 18 – 45, because research shows that they are most likely to cause snowmobile incidents.
Among other initiatives this winter, the OFSC is running a comprehensive Trail Checkpoint program, a joint enforcement PSA with the O.P.P., and has recently released “Think Like A Pro”, an advanced riding tips booklet for avid snowmobilers. Anyone can learn more about snowmobile safety and OFSC initiatives by clicking on www.ofsc.on.ca.
The OFSC is committed to proactive leadership in promoting safe, responsible riding, on and off Ontario snowmobile trails, by building safer snowmobiling knowledge, attitudes and behaviours through rider education, safety legislation development and enforcement.