It is no doubt the humming buzz of snowmobile engines is a sign of winter in Michigan. But as residents and visitors enjoy the sled-riding activities and events this year, officials have busy responding to a rash of accidents and wrecks across the state involving snowmobilers and other drivers.
Most recently a father of four was snowmobiling in Antrim County when his snowmobile disappeared into the open water of Lake Skegemog. Local residents dialed 911 when they heard someone yelling from the lake. The local sheriff’s office responded with a dive team and performed a search of the area. The department found snowmobile tracks leading into the open water but no survivors. The team found the man the next day. He was traveling alone. Drowning is one of the leading causes of snowmobile fatalities.
Just weeks earlier, two men from Indiana also drove their snowmobiles into the same lake. Luckily the men were traveling near the shoreline and could easily be rescued with only minor injuries from exposure to the cold water. Lake Skegemog borders Antrim, Grand Traverse and Kalkaska counties.
In a Livingston County township, one person died after a snowmobile crash involving excessive speeds. Despite life-saving efforts, the driver of the snowmobile died at the scene.
In other wrecks, three people had to be taken to the hospital after six snowmobiles were involved in a bad chain reaction crash in Cheboygan County. And in Otsego County, a woman was driving a snowmobile with a 7-year-old girl and hit by an oncoming vehicle. The girl was taken to a local hospital and treated.
Officials suggest all sled drivers attend a snowmobile safety class to learn the basics of snowmobile operation, Michigan snowmobile laws and regulations, and safety tips.
SAFE RIDING TIPS FROM MICHIGAN D.N.R.
- Always keep your machine in top mechanical condition.
- Always wear insulated boots and protective clothing including a helmet, gloves and eye protection.
- Never ride alone.
- When possible, avoid crossing frozen bodies of water or snow-covered lakes.
- Never operate in a single file when crossing frozen bodies of water.
- Always be alert to avoid fences and low strung wires.
- Never operate on a street or highway.
- Always look for depressions in the snow.
- Keep headlights and taillights on at all times.
- When approaching an intersection, come to a complete stop, raise yourself off the seat and look for traffic.
- Always check the weather conditions before you depart.
Most importantly drivers should slow down since speed is a contributing factor in nearly all fatal accidents. Don’t drink or do drugs because they impair judgment and slow your reaction time.
SNOWMOBILES ARE NOT MOTOR VEHICLES
The term “motor vehicle” has an incredible amount of significance when it comes to receiving Michigan no-fault benefits and pain and suffering compensation following an accident. People injured when a motor vehicle is not involved in an accident are not entitled to those same benefits. Under Michigan law, only motor vehicles are covered under the Michigan no-fault law. Snowmobiles are not motor vehicles because they don’t have “more than 2 wheels”, as required by the motor vehicle definition.
Please do everything you can to protect yourself and others while snowmobiling. If an accident does occur and you or someone you know is injured while snowmobiling or engaging in any other winter activity, please call us at 1-800-LEE-FREE for a FREE consultation. Our attorneys are here to fight for the rights of the injured in Michigan, and we have the experience it takes to win you the compensation you deserve.