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RCMP issue snowmobile warning

This holiday season, Alberta RCMP are reminding snowmobilers to keep safe while they are out sledding.

From 1997 to 2006, there were 345 collisions involving 378 motorized snow vehicles in Alberta. Sixty per cent of these crashes resulted in death or injury.

Dangers include excessive speed, failure to check ice thickness on lakes and rivers and inattentive driving.

Another major factor in snowmobile incidents is the influence of drugs and alcohol.

Snowmobile drivers can be charged with the same impaired driving offences as the driver of a vehicle on the highway.

This could mean fines, loss of licence, a criminal record or a jail sentence. A conviction will prevent the driver from operating any motor vehicle on public land or roadways.

Snowmobilers can also be affected by the provisions of new provincial impaired driving legislation. Bill 26, which was implemented on July 1, gives police the power to immediately suspend licences and seize vehicles of anyone who blows over .05 blood alcohol level, but not over the .08 limit necessary to lay a criminal charge.

Reckless riders can also be charged under the Traffic Safety Act.

RCMP remind sledders to complete a pre-ride inspection, wear properly fitted and certified safety gear, and dress warmly while out in the snow. They also remind riders to keep an emergency tool kit, a cellphone and avalanche equipment.

Travelling on the right hand side of trails, keeping to terrain you know and never riding alone are also critical to snowmobile safety.



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