ROCKFORD (WIFR) – 18 people have lost their lives this year to snowmobiling accidents in Illinois and Wisconsin according to the Department of Natural Resources.
Rockford Park District Parole Officer Andrew Kjellgren understands the dangers of snowmobiling. That’s why for the last three years he’s been teaching officers and other riders the right way to handle a snowmobile, keeping safety his main priority.
"You're out here riding over rough terrain and through trees and things like that so you gotta know what you're doing and be able to hand various terrain situations."
According to the Department of Natural Resources, 23 people died last year in Illinois and Wisconsin from snow mobile accidents. This year alone, 18 have lost their lives.
Rockford Park District Sergeant Scott Vincent says it’s important to ride along a marked trail. Vincent says they’re safer considering they are maintained weekly for our safety. He says if we don’t ride on a trail, we risk hidden dangers like black ice.
Officers say to be cautious when coming up to stop signs when you’re on the trails and obey stop signs because they usually mean you are crossing a roadway. They say if you do decide to go snowmobiling, to make sure you bring a friend.
Along with never riding alone, Sergeant Vincent Highly recommends taking the free training courses the park district offers.
“We put them through about 2 hours of training, teaching them basic maintenance on the snowmobiles as well as how to traverse hills and safely cross roadways and different riding positions.”
The Department of Natural Resources says 70% of the people killed in snowmobile accidents aren’t certified.