By Wendy Elliott
This is International Snowmobile Safety Week. It runs Jan. 13-19, and the timing is no coincidence.
A week promoting snowmobile safety education and enforcement is very timely, with two snowmobile collisions in Kings County already this month.
Snowmobiles have also reported on the road in places like Coldbrook. Const. Blair MacMurtery, who is the Kings RCMP detachment’s community policing officer, says that snowmobiles are not allowed on the shoulder. Licensed drivers are only permitted under the Motor Vehicle Act to ride in ditches adjacent to Highway 101.
The RCMP are using International Snowmobile Safety Week to remind snowmobilers of safety issues or encourage riders to take a safety course.
MacMurtery offers the following tips:
• Always wear a helmet
• Watch your speed
• Refrain from drinking alcohol or using drugs while operating a snowmobile.
Especially at night, MacMurtery said, snowmobilers should slow down. The slower drivers are travelling, the less distance they need to stop.
Snowmobilers should always seek permission from landowners to operate on their land, he added.
Snowmobiling is a sport enjoying immense popularity. There are currently over 700,000 registered snowmobiles in Canada and over 161,000 kilometres of snowmobile trails.
Throughout the winter season, the RCMP will be out on the trails with members from the Department of Natural Resources (DNR), Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) and the Snowmobilers Association of Nova Scotia (SANS). Working together, the agencies ensure that snowmobilers are enjoying themselves safely on the trails and if they plan to consume alcohol, that they are doing it at the end of their day, after they are no longer operating their snowmobiles.
For information on snowmobile safety courses in Nova Scotia, contact the Snowmobilers Association of Nova Scotia at (902) 425-5454, ext. 324.
On thin ice
Be aware of ice thickness and avoid bodies of water that may be frozen, warns Const. Blair MacMurtery with the Kings County District RCMP.
Crossing ice can be particularly dangerous for hikers and snowmobile riders.
He says ice colour is good indicator of its safety. Blue to clear ice, for example, is high density, very strong, and the safest ice to be on if thick enough. Stay off if it is less than four inches (10 centimetres) thick.
Light gray to dark black ice is melting ice, even if air temperature is below 0°C, so stay off.
White to opaque ice is water-saturated snow. Most times it is weak due to being porous from air pockets.
Mottled or slushy ice is thawing. It is deceptive, because it may appear thick at the top, but it is rotting away at the center and base. This ice is not suitable for even a footstep.
Snowmobilers planning drag races
The Annapolis Valley Lake and Ridge Runners are planning their annual Snowmobile Snow Drag Races on Jan. 26.
Registration for the event begins at 8:30 a.m. and closes at 10:30 a.m., with a race meeting planned for 10:45 a.m. and racing starting at 11 a.m.
There are a number of classes planned, including unstudded, trail studded/chisel/picks, stock, trail improved, race improved, open improved and pro stock. A tether strap kill switch is required for open improved classes.
Participants must be 19 years old in order to race and registration costs $20 for insurance per sled and $15 plus tax per class.
The event will be held at the Blomidon Performance Race Track. Take the Berwick exit off the 101 Highway and head north, turning left at the Somerset intersection. Signs will be posted.
Spectators are welcome; admission is $6 per person, under 12 is free. A canteen will be on site.
In case of inclement weather, an alternate date will be determined by 11 a.m. on Jan. 25. For more details, visit www.snowmobilesavlrr.com.