Snowmobiling is big business in the U.P. and the DNR is promoting rider safety with its Ride Right campaign. Michigan DNR
What's happening: A rash of fatalities on Upper Peninsula trails is forcing snowmobilers to use extra caution when riding their sleds. Almost every county in the Upper Peninsula had a snowmobiling fatality in just three weeks of having enough snow to start the season.
Ride Right campaign: The state’s “Ride Right” campaign is back in full swing, with members of local law enforcement and the Michigan DNR using public service announcements and in-person events to help restart Michigan’s outdoor recreation safety campaign. Ride Right was started in the mid 2010s, but was not in use much the last few years, as the focus was on anti-COVID measures.
What they're saying: “It’s definitely snowmobile season in Alger County and the U.P.,” Alger County Sheriff Todd Brock said. “We have some of the best trails in the state up here and we have dedicated volunteers to make sure the trails are clear, but that doesn’t mean you can disregard safe riding.”
It could happen to anyone: Riders of any skill level can make one bad turn to cause an accident. Fatalities this season included lifelong riders and rookies. Central Upper Peninsula snowmobilers also were shocked to hear that American Rally Car champion Ken Block, who raced in Marquette this summer, passed away in a snowmobile accident in Utah on Jan. 2. Experience with the individual trails are also not an automatic safety option. The fatality in Alger County was a local rider less than 10 miles from their property.
More than speed: According to the DNR, the number one cause of accidents on snowmobile trails is related to speed. However, the Ride Right campaign also focuses on other issues that lead to fatalities, like interaction with other snowmobilers, animals and vehicles. Sobriety is also important when properly operating a snowmobile.