Most Snowmobile Fatalities Found High Level Of Alcohol Use
Wisconsin's death total so far this snowmobile season has been half of last year's total, but even with the lower numbers, a DNR official says the cause often is too much alcohol. Most of the snowmobile drivers killed this winter have had blood alcohol levels nearly 3 times the legal level.
Gary Eddy in the Bureau of Law Enforcement says to date, 8 persons have lost their lives in snowmobile crashes this winter, compare to 15 last year. Eddy says the weather this year is different than last year and with the exception of places like the Northwoods, there are fewer opportunities to ride.
But Eddy says 6 of the 8 fatalities included persons legally intoxicated...
".....the operators for these machines this year average, the (blood alcohol level) for the victims was .21. That's not just an occasional drink here or there, that's some heavy drinking. No way, shape or form should these people be operating any type of machinery..."
Eddy says they have given the same message each year: drinking and speeding don't mix and often end up tragically...
".....snowmobiling is a fun, recreational activity and it should never end up in somebody dying. The best way to take yourself out of possibly being a statistic is to just wise up and wait until you're done riding for the day before you consume any type of alcohol...."
Eddy says speed is also a factor in most crashes. He says the 55 mph night time speed limit is effective. He says most drivers are well below that level after dark.
He says snowmobile operators have to be licenses to drive. In Wisconsin that means everyone over age 12, or those born after January, 1985 has to complete a snowmobile safety class to legally drive. He says law enforcement officers are routinely checking whether drivers are certified. Wisconsin has about 220,000 registered snowmobiles.