(ARA) - Winter is here; tune up the snowmobile and wheel out the ATV. But while you're zipping through the winter wonderland on your sport vehicle, don't forget the importance of safety. Each year, more than 50 people drown in the United States and Canada when their snowmobiles or all-terrain vehicles plunge through thin ice.
Alcohol use, poor visibility, lack of personal flotation devices and driving on soft ice or open water are common contributing factors in these deaths. Most accidents, however, are entirely preventable if recreationalists follow safe, and smart, operating practices. Many injury prevention organizations encourage riders to be safe as they drive their sport vehicles at high speeds and through uncertain terrain. By being responsible and following a few simple tips, drivers can prevent most drowning accidents.
Wear the Appropriate Gear
Dress for the weather; hypothermia is a concern for all winter recreationalists. Warm, layered and waterproof clothing will ensure you retain body heat while driving at high speeds. A helmet will also protect you from head injuries if you crash or fall from the vehicle.
Be Aware of Surroundings and Conditions
It's not always easy to spot thin ice on frozen lakes and rivers. You may not be aware of risky ice until you've already crashed through it. Know the ice and weather conditions expected during the day of your ride. Be cautious while riding along unfamiliar paths and while crossing frozen waterways, roadways, rail tracks or intersections. Riders should also watch out for other motorists that are driving in the vicinity. Be a courteous driver. If others exhibit reckless driving behaviors over ice-covered bodies of water, or even on solid terrain, keep a safe distance from them or even seek a different trail.
Review Local Laws
Snowmobile and ATV drivers must follow set rules and regulations, just as drivers of any other motorized vehicles must. These laws were created to keep you and other drivers safe. The laws enforced for snowmobiles and ATVs differ by state as well as city, so review and understand the laws for the area you plan to ride in before you begin.
Know How to Handle Your Vehicle
Because winter recreational vehicles come out one season a year, you may be out of practice at the beginning of the season. Know and respect your driving skills and your vehicle's limitations. Before riding in a heavy traffic area, practice your riding techniques to reacquaint yourself with driving.
Know your vehicle and keep it in good working order. Before heading out on a trip, follow a short routine to check that your vehicle is running smoothly. Every year, many drowning accidents occur when vehicles malfunction while driving over ice or open water.
Also, plan ahead for your trip and let others know of your plans. If you know the length of your ride, make sure you have enough fuel to complete your ride.
Driving a recreational vehicle under the influence of alcohol or drugs is a dangerous, and many times fatal, mistake. Drugs and alcohol impair vision, decrease reaction times and inhibit a driver's ability to make sound decisions. Insobriety is often a contributing factor to recreational vehicle accidents.
Use Appropriate Equipment
Sometimes a crash through thin ice is unavoidable. Consider installing a life-saving flotation device on your recreational vehicle for those times when you've done everything right but still find yourself in harm's way. Options like the Nebulus Emergency Flotation Device can mean the difference between survival and disaster. Contained in a compact, soft, rugged shell, the device attaches easily to any vehicle and, with the pull of a rip cord, provides temporary flotation for up to 1,000 pounds. Once inflated, the flotation device can be carried, pushed or paddled to rescue other victims or move you out of harm's way. Law enforcement and emergency crews throughout the country have used the Nebulus to save countless lives.
By following these tips, drivers can help prevent the number of fatal accidents that occur each year from drowning.
To learn more about the Nebulus Flotation Device, call (800) 682-8039 or visit www.nebulusflotation.com.
Courtesy of ARAcontent