DNR urges snowmobile safety following upward trend of fatal crashes

With three snowmobile deaths so far this winter season, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources is stressing the importance of safety.

DNR officials say the amount of fatal crashes across the state has seen an upward trend in recent years. Last winter, 10 riders died in snowmobile-related crashes, compared to five deaths the year before and three deaths in the 2015-16 season.

Some of the close calls this year include snowmobiles falling through the ice and a case in which a snowmobile driver struck a man, seriously injuring him.

“We want people enjoying the Minnesota winter, but we want them to do it safely,” Bruce Lawrence, recreational vehicle coordinator with the DNR’s Enforcement Division, said in a press release.

The DNR advises riders to stay on marked trails, ride at a safe speed, be aware of ice and not to drink and drive. Officials say alcohol plays a role in about 60 percent of deadly snowmobile crashes.