It’s one of the biggest outdoor activities across the state; snowmobiling. But, this year is proving to be deadlier for snowmobilers than in the past few years.
Those numbers have the Wisconsin DNR urging riders to use extreme caution, even if trails seem safe.
As of Monday afternoon, there have already been 16 snowmobile related deaths in Wisconsin. That surpasses any year in recent history prior to the start of March.
According to the Wisconsin DNR ATV/Snowmobile Administrator, Gary Eddy, this year's winter has been more deadly for a few reasons.
The large amount of snow we've gotten brings more riders out on trails, meaning more risk for accidents. Also, another major factor is alcohol.
Eddy says that alcohol plays a huge role in the fatality rate right here in the Badger State. "Alcohol is a main contributing factor. This year of the 16 fatalities we currently have, 12 of those involve alcohol. That’s a very high percentage involving alcohol."
That’s where he says people need to use commonsense if they do choose to ride. Although many taverns and bars are located near or on trail systems, riders need to decide whether they want to drink or snowmobile. The DNR says that's the biggest way people can stay safe, and have a good time out there this winter.
So you may be wondering how do other states compare to Wisconsin? Michigan has 11 fatalities, while Minnesota only has six this year.
Whether it's tighter punishment for OWI’s or not, the DNR says they are working with these states to crack down on intoxicated snowmobilers right here at home.