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Snowmobile safely this winter

With another snowmobile season fast approaching, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is encouraging snowmobilers to get the season off to a smooth, safe start.

Last season there were 13 snowmobile related fatalities and numerous injuries in Minnesota.

Riding snowmobiles can be a safe and enjoyable form of outdoor recreation when people follow some basic safety rules:

• Obey the 50 mph speed limit in Minnesota, and remember that trail conditions often require slower speeds.

• Slow down, especially at night; at nighttime speeds of 40 mph or greater.

• Stay away from alcohol.

• Be cautious of hidden ditch dangers such as sign posts, fence posts, guy wires, stumps, rocks, telephone and cable boxes, culverts.

• Stay off the roadway, shoulder and inside slope of state and county highways.

• Operate snowmobiles in the same direction as highway traffic when riding one-half hour after sunset to one-half hour before sunrise.

• Stay on designated trails.

• Stay off the median of four-lane highways.

• Come to a complete stop and look both ways before crossing any roadway, and cross at a 90-degree angle.

• Check weather conditions before heading out.

Remember that ice is never safe.

• Never ride alone.

• Display a current snowmobile registration.

• Take a safety training course.

• To legally ride a snowmobile, residents born after Dec. 31, 1976, need a valid snowmobile safety certificate in their possession, or a snowmobile safety certificate indicator on their driver's license or on their Minnesota ID card.

For a copy of the DNR's 2011-2012 Minnesota Snowmobile Safety Laws, Rules, and Regulations handbook, and for safety training information, contact the DNR at 651-296-6157 or toll free 888-MINNDNR, or email