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Snowmobiling safety in spotlight this week

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The OPP responded to 27 snowmobile deaths during the 2016-17 season, marking the highest number of fatalities since the winter of 2003-04.

Last season also was the worst on record for snowmobilers whose ride took a tragic turn while travelling on frozen waterways.

One-third (nine) of last season's victims died as a result of their snowmobiles either going through the ice or entering open water.

While kicking off Safe Snowmobile Week (Jan. 20-28) in conjunction with the Ontario Federation of Snowmobile Clubs (OFSC), the OPP is urging snowmobilers to leave all forms of risky behaviour behind when heading out for a ride, especially when riding on frozen waterways.

“The spike in snowmobile fatalities and [an] all-time record high in ice-related deaths last season are unacceptable,” said Deputy Commissioner Brad Blair, Provincial Commander, Traffic Safety and Operational Support.

“The vast majority of the 27 snowmobilers who died took unnecessary risks instead of making it a safe, enjoyable ride that got them home safely to their families,” he noted.

“With very few exceptions, speeding, driving too fast for the conditions, consuming alcohol, riding on unsafe ice, and other risky behaviours are what lead to snowmobile deaths every year,” Blair added.

“Snowmobiling occurs in an unpredictable and uncontrollable natural setting with inherent risks that demand constant rider preparedness, vigilance, caution, unimpaired reaction, and smart decisions,” echoed Lisa Stackhouse, manager of Participation and Partnership Development, OFSC.

“The OFSC encourages all snowmobilers to click on the 'GO Safe' link on our website to learn about how they can enjoy the safest ride possible,” she added.

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