Snowmobiling has always given Maine’s economy a boost, drawing people from all over the state and country for a taste of winter fun in the wilds of Maine.
There are 13,000 miles of snowmobile trails in Maine and there are no speed limits. The whole idea of snowmobiling is to give the rider a sense of freedom and fun. Sledders are judged by the standard of “reasonable and prudent speed for the existing conditions”. Reasonable means remembering that many families are out riding together, enjoying the outdoors.
Snowmobile safety laws, such as the ban against operating under the influence, are in place to balance fun and responsible driving.
Fun can turn to tragedy in a flash. Last winter death struck twelve snowmobilers in Maine. There have already been two snowmobile related deaths this season, and the snow has just started to pile up. The sad fact is that even the safest snowmobiler can’t always protect against snowmobiling injuries caused by others. What can you do if you are injured by a reckless snowmobiler? Do you have any rights out on the snow? Who will pay your medical bills and bring home a paycheck if you are too hurt to work?
The short answer is that if you are severely injured through no fault of your own in a snowmobile accident, Maine law gives you the same rights you have if you are negligently hurt in car accident, or on the operating room table from malpractice. The hard truth is that the road to recovery is often a long, hard haul.
Snowmobile injuries and deaths have caught the attention of state officials, who want Mainers and other to enjoy the sport without injury. In a recent press release about snowmobiling Governor Baldacci urged snowmobilers to be safe and sober when out on the trails this winter. The strength of the law behind the Governor’s statement comes in the form of a Maine Warden.
The Maine Warden Service uses all available manpower to make sure that the death toll from reckless snowmobiling is minimized. As the season gets busier, officials plan safety checks along Maine’s snowmobile trails. However, it’s an uphill battle to police a round-the-clock, round-the-state sport against the handful of sledders that view snowmobiling as no-holds-barred speed adventure.
For more information, including tips on how to protect yourself from injury, turn to websites such as Snowmobile Maine. The group’s “Ride Right” motto reminds members that fun comes with a duty to protect others as well.