Skip to main content

DNR urges snowmobile safety amid winter storm

The National Weather Service is predicting a snowstorm to arrive in the Great Lakes region Thursday-Saturday with the potential to drop a decent amount of accumulation. That’s favorable for snowmobile conditions, particularly in the Lower Peninsula, but the Michigan Department of Natural Resources reminds all snowmobilers to use great caution and “Ride Right” so they can safely return home to family and friends.

“Many people will be jumping on their snowmobiles for the first time this season,” said Cpl. Mike Hearn, snowmobile and off-road vehicle specialist, DNR Law Enforcement Division. “The forecast, combined with the excitement of the holidays, is creating a scenario in which conservation officers often see avoidable accidents. People are excited, riding fast, hitting drifts and often riding outside of their capabilities. We want to remind everyone to ride sober, at a safe speed, especially near curves, and to ride within your and your machine’s capabilities.”

Additional “Ride Right” snowmobile safety tips include:

  • Riding on the right side of the trail or road.
  • Riding with your machine’s lights on.
  • Watching for and yielding to trail groomers.
  • Ensuring your machine is in good working condition before you ride.
  • Leaving a ride plan, including details about where you’re going and when you’ll return, with someone who is staying home.
  • Riding at a safe distance behind the person in front of you; snowmobiles may have a delayed stop time due to sliding on ice or snow. This is particularly important for riders operating in low visibility caused by snow.

Trails permits are required for snowmobiles operating on the trail system and may be purchased online. Conservation officers encourage operators to carry a proof or purchase until the permit that needs to be affixed to the snowmobile arrives in the mail.

Additionally, snowmobile exhaust sound emissions should be 88 decibels or under.

"This is important because many public snowmobile trails are connected by portions of private property, but only because the property owners have granted that access," said Lt. Tom Wanless, DNR Law Enforcement Division. "Frustration with overly loud snowmobiles is one of the primary reasons they rescind permission, which means all snowmobilers lose access routes to certain trails."

A snowmobile safety certificate is required for operators under the age of 16 who will be riding on the trails unsupervised or when crossing roadways. Everyone is encouraged to earn a recreational safety certificate, which can be completed online.

There has been one reported snowmobile fatality this season.

Read more about safety, find places to ride and purchase your trail permit at

Note to editors: Accompanying photos are available below for download. Caption information follows.

Ride Right: The Michigan Department of Natural Resources “Ride Right” snowmobile safety campaign emphasizes riding at a safe speed, riding sober, riding on the right side of the road and yielding to trail groomers. Read more safety tips, find places to ride and purchase your snowmobile trail permit at

Snowmobile: With a severe winter storm predicted to drop a decent amount of snow during the holiday weekend, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources encourages all snowmobile riders to “Ride Right.” Get safety tips, find places to ride and purchase your snowmobile trail permit at