Counties Looking to Eagle River to Reduce Snowmobile Related Deaths

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One of the longest and most successful snowmobile seasons has come to an end in Vilas County and there haven't been any fatalities, which doesn't always happen.

Between 2004 and 2006, 13 people were killed on Vilas County snowmobile trails.

Local residents said enough was enough and formed a committee to improve trail safety, and considering there were no deaths this year in the county, they know it's working.

Eagle River lives up to its name of being the 'Snowmobile Capitol of the World' with thousand flocking to it every year to enjoy the snowmobile trails.

But at one point, Vilas County had nearly 20-percent of all snowmobile deaths in the state. But now, that seems to be improving.

"Vilas County has been very proactive in trying to reduce and fatalities. This is actually the second year out of three that we have had zero fatalities up here,” Explained Dale Mayo of the Vilas County Parks Department.

After seeing a rise in snowmobile deaths over the past decade, Mayo and other community leaders took action to raise awareness about safety on the trails.

"What we were looking to do was find a proactive solution to study where the accidents were happening, why the fatalities were occurring, and try to improve on it. Since 2009, we have brought that down to less than 50 percent of what it was,” he said.

The steps taken include spreading the word about the dangers of snowmobiling drunk, as well as adding trail markers with a set of numbers so that riders can easily refer rescue crews to their locations in case an accident occurs.

Statewide there had been 23 deaths this year on snowmobile trails-- up slightly from the year before.

Vilas County leaders say other counties across the state are turning to them for advice on how to curb dangers in their area.

Click here for a county-by-county breakdown of fatalities.

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