Snowmobiling has become one of Ontario’s most popular winter activities.
While it can be a lot of fun, doing it safely comes with certain responsibilities.
An average of 73 fatal snowmobile accidents happen in Canada every year (1), including 11 in Ontario alone during the 2020/2021 season (2), but you can greatly decrease your chances of becoming a statistic by following Ontario snowmobile rules.
GET YOUR SNOWMOBILE LICENSE
In Ontario, anyone 16 years of age or older needs to hold a G1 or higher drivers license or hold a Motorized Snow Vehicle Operators License (MSVOL) to operate a snowmobile.
Children 12-15 years old must hold an MSVOL. There is no licence available for kids under 12.
Whether you hold a drivers license or not it is a good idea for everyone who operates a snowmobile to enrol in a snowmobile safety course.
There are several well-reviewed snowmobile training courses available to Ontario riders, including:
WHERE YOU CAN RIDE YOUR SNOWMOBILE
The answer to this depends on your age and licence type.
16+ year-olds with an Ontario drivers licence, MSVOL or a snowmobile licence from another jurisdiction can ride on snowmobile trails, across a road where permitted, on roadways where permitted and on private property.
12 – 15 year-olds with an MSVOL or a snowmobile licence from another jurisdiction can ride on snowmobile trails as well as private property.
Kids 12 and under can only ride on private property.
BEFORE YOU RIDE
For peace of mind, you are going to want to make sure your sled is fully gassed up, but to abide by Ontario snowmobile laws; make sure that you are carrying:
- Proof of snowmobile ownership (it must be registered with the Ministry of Transportation)
- Snowmobile insurance for your sled
- Valid Snowmobile Trail Permit affixed to your sled when on the trails
- An approved snowmobile helmet
Not having 1 or more of these items with you could result in significant fines or other consequences.
SNOWMOBILE TRAFFIC LAWS
When operating a snowmobile in Ontario, you need to abide by any speed, road & trail laws.
Although you can ride alongside public roads between the shoulder and fence line you cannot ride on the paved roadways, plowed shoulders, or highways.
Speed limits are lower on roadways for snowmobiles than cars and on trails, you should adjust your speed to the weather and trail conditions.
34% of fatal snowmobile accidents in Canada have involved excessive speeds and ½ of fatal accidents have involved a collision with a stationary object. (1)
The takeaway? SLOW DOWN!
DRIVING A SNOWMOBILE WHILE IMPAIRED
Always drive sober!
1/2 of all fatal snowmobile accidents in Canada involve alcohol or drugs (1).
If the police determine you are driving your snowmobile while impaired you could face immediate license suspension, fines and vehicle impoundment. (3)
If convicted of impaired driving on a snowmobile you will suffer even more serious consequences such as losing your driving privileges for all types of vehicles, including commercial vehicles, for at least one year and potentially even jail time depending on prior convictions. (3)
Drive within your ability, reduce your speed (especially at night), stay sober and avoid driving near unfamiliar waterways.
Never drive on private property without permission from the landowner and be courteous to other riders on the trails.
By keeping these things in mind you will still have fun sledding this winter, but you’ll be a lot safer while doing so!
Erie Mutual Insurance proudly serves the commercial insurance, farm insurance, home insurance and auto insurance needs of members throughout Southern Ontario including Haldimand, Niagara and Hamilton.
Please don’t hesitate to contact us with any questions you may have about this or any other topic related to your insurance.