Using a snowmobile for safe travel or for fun is common in the Midwest, but it isn’t without risks. In fact, February 19th, a Lafayette man lost his life when his snowmobile hit a tree. Weather and terrain are two factors that contributed to his accident and should always be considered before firing up the snowmobile for a ride. To help owners and riders understand what laws and advice from experts exists on the subject, here’s are some answers to some most commonly asked questions regarding snowmobile safety in the state of Indiana.
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Where can I ride a snowmobile in Indiana?
In Indiana, snowmobiles are allowed to cross public highways (other than limited access highways) to get from one place to another, as long as the driver comes to a full stop before crossing. Snowmobiles can also drive on the public-right-of-way next to public highways (but again, not limited access roads), as long as there is enough room. While some Indiana counties allow snowmobiles to drive on county roads, it’s important to double check before planning a trip. Fortunately, the Indiana Department of Natural Resources has a map of which counties do or do not allow snowmobiles on county roads. If you decide to operate your snowmobile on a public road, here are some safety guidelines to follow.
- Always come to a complete stop before crossing a public road.
- Always yield to all traffic.
What time of day can I ride my snowmobile in Indiana?
Also, operators need to know that they can’t snowmobile from 30 minutes after sunset until 30 minutes before sunrise without appropriate head and tail lights.
What do I wear to ride a snowmobile?
Wearing warm clothes is important–if an accident occurs and the driver is knocked unconscious, the right clothing can keep them from more injury until help arrives.
How fast can I drive my snowmobile in Indiana?
Mostly, they are ridden on private property where there is no speed limit. But, that doesn’t mean reckless driving won’t be considered a factor should someone get hurt. This is why the driver is responsible for using reasonable care, and should take into account the trail, weather conditions, and time of day when deciding how fast to go.
Does my snowmobile need to be registered in Indiana?
Any snowmobile driven on public land in Indiana needs to be registered. This means if you want to snowmobile on any of Indiana’s pristine snowmobile trails, or even cross a public road to access private property, you’ll need to follow these guidelines.
- Indiana residents can register a snowmobile at any BMV location for a fee of $30. This registration is good for three years. You don’t have to have the title to register the snowmobile, but you do need the vehicle identification number (VIN).
- The official registration document provided to you by the BMV must be kept on your person or on the vehicle during use. Also, the BMV will provide you with a registration decal that must be kept on the front half of your vehicle. Once the vehicle is all registered, there are four DNR-maintained snowmobile trails in Indiana riders can take advantage of.
If you own and operate a snowmobile, you know just how exhilarating they can be. But, staying safe should always be a priority. Still, snowmobiles can be dangerous even when operated with caution. The combination of terrain, weather, and machinery means increased risk.