AUGUSTA, Maine -- Game Wardens and the Maine Snowmobile Association are teaming up this winter to ensure that this snowmobile season starts, and ends safely.
Maine registered a record number of snowmobiles last year, up 25% from just five years ago. Even with the record number of snowmobiles, accidents were down from two years ago. Unfortunately, Maine achieved another record at the same time, and that was for the 16 fatalities that occurred while snowmobiling. The Maine Warden Service and the Maine Snowmobile Association are working together to ensure safe riding on the state's 13,000 miles of groomed trails that stretch from Kittery to Fort Kent.
The Christmas-New Year week marks the busiest early period of the season. Maine Game Wardens have scheduled enforcement details and trail safety checks throughout the state during that period.
Enforcement details will key on operating a snowmobile to endanger or with imprudent speed, as well as operating a snowmobile under the influence. Peak use times are heavily staffed with wardens directed to concentrate on high visibility snowmobile enforcement using dedicated snowmobile enforcement funds. Funds for special enforcement activities are raised directly through the sale of nonresident snowmobile registrations.
Safety Checks are done in conjunction with local snowmobile clubs. Game Wardens, along with volunteers from the club set up in a highly visible area, and after snowmobiles stop, they work through a checklist of safety points that include lights, brakes, skis, belts and spare equipment among others. They work with the operator quickly, impressing upon the need for safety and driving responsibly, then send them on their way.
The Maine Snowmobile Association is also nearing completion on a Safety CD that will be available to snowmobilers. There will be video on the CD, as well as PDF files detailing safety. The MSA also designed and delivered a Ride Right, Ride Safe educational video and training program to snowmobile clubs and dealers. The CD is funded through an Outdoor Heritage Grant obtained by the Warden Service's Community Policing Program and the MSA.
In addition Game Wardens and Recreational Safety Coordinators are soliciting and responding to requests from businesses and schools to train staff on safe operation of snowmobiles. If you are interested in finding out where and when there is a snowmobile safety course, or have a Game Warden or IFW safety coordinator visit your school or large business, please contact the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife at 287-8000.
The Maine Warden Service will also be working with the Maine Turnpike Authority to deliver safety brochures at toll booths to those trailering snowmobiles, as well as delivering safety messages on the turnpike radio station.
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