The Illinois Department of Natural Resources is reminding snowmobile operators and riders to take extra caution this year when the snow begins to fall in Illinois. Every year throughout the state, people are seriously injured or lose their lives on snowmobiles. Many of these accidents could have been prevented had proper precautions been taken and common sense been used.

In most instances, being alert, knowing the trail, and traveling at a reasonable rate of speed for trail conditions can prevent most accidents. In North America, more than 50 percent of snowmobile fatalities involve intoxicated operators.

Last season (2010-2011) in Illinois, 47 reported snowmobile accidents resulted in 1 fatality.

“Snowmobiling is a fun activity for thousands of people in Illinois each year, but that fun can be quickly eclipsed if safety isn’t the top priority,” said IDNR Director Marc Miller. “If you are planning to snowmobile this season but haven’t yet taken a safety course, there are new opportunities to do so in 2012.”

Starting in 2012, two new online snowmobile safety courses will be available the public to become familiar with safe sledding practices or to refresh themselves on staying safe. Individuals will be able to earn legal safety certification through either www.snowmobilecourse.com or www.snowmobile-ed.com. Both companies charge a fee of $29.50 to complete their course.

While IDNR encourages everyone to take a snowmobile safety class before their first ride of the season, state law requires that persons at least 12 years of age and less than 16 years must have in possession a valid Snowmobile Safety Education Certificate of Competency issued by IDNR in order to operate a snowmobile alone.

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