Snowmobiling is a great source of winter fun for many Minnesotans, but it is not without its dangers. While there are snowmobile accidents every year, experts are suggesting that 2018 may be particularly deadly. Snowmobilers are advised to include a little more caution with their recreation.

Winter’s Death Toll Is Already Too High

Data from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) shows that, since 2007, there has been an average of 3 deaths from broken ice in Minnesota’s lakes and rivers each year. According to an article in the Twin Cities Pioneer Press, during the winter of 2014-2015, five Minnesotans lost their lives because of thin ice. Last winter, 2016-2017, saw only three deaths.

So far, this winter, five people have already been killed on Minnesota lakes due to uneven ice thicknesses inability to support a snowmobile or ATV. Lisa Dugan, a DNR spokeswoman, commented that, “With the fluctuating temperatures we’ve seen, that hasn’t created that nice, solid, clear ice.”

In addition to the five deaths, there have been several close calls too. One rescue involved a man who was a companion to one of the five that was killed. Also, two men were rescued after their snowmobile, that was towing an ice house plunged through the unevenly frozen ice on St. Mary’s Lake just outside of Eveleth, and there was another man rescued following his snowmobile crashing through the ice on Rice Lake.

Ice Thickness Guidelines

The DNR suggests that for your safety, new clear ice should be at least 4 inches thick for walking on, 5-7 inches is the recommendation for ATVs and Snowmobiles (single machine 5, two machines 7), 8-12 inches for cars and 12 to 15 inches for trucks. If the ice is covered by snow, the ice thickness needs to be doubled. People going out on the ice should bring a chisel and a float coat or life jacket.

Not All Snowmobile Accidents Are The Result Of Thin Ice

Snowmobilers have more to watch out for than thin ice. Snowmobile accidents may also be caused by the negligence of other snowmobilers, property owners and even manufacturers of defective snowmobiles. Snowmobilers injured in accidents may want to keep in mind that they may be able to file a personal injury claim against a negligent party to recover compensation.