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Saturday, 17 February 2018 06:45

Snowmobile safety should be paramount

Written by  Lindsey Leko
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I really enjoy writing this column. Please keep the emails coming with questions and I will answer everything I get.


Recently I have had a couple of people ask me about some of the rules surrounding snowmobiling in Saskatchewan. Although snow conditions are poor in the south, central and northern regions have some decent conditions.
In Saskatchewan, there are a couple of pieces of legislation that cover operation of a snowmobile. These include: The Criminal Code, Alcohol and Gaming Regulations, The Snowmobile Act, The Trespass to Property Act, The Wildlife Act and a few others.
Conservation officers in Saskatchewan are authorized to enforce all of the above legislation and do so even though some of the laws do not fall into our primary duties.
I will try and break down some of the rules. For further information, contact the Saskatchewan Snowmobile Association, as they have a wealth of information available to all snowmobilers.
How does registration of a snowmobile work?
Simply put, if you are going to drive a snowmobile on any land other than privately owned land with the permission of the land owner, you will need to ensure that your snowmobile is registered with SGI.
Who can drive a snowmobile?
A person must be at least 16 years of age and have completed a snowmobile safety course in order to operate a snowmobile on or in any area where a snowmobile must be registered. The driver must also have a Class 1 to 5 driver’s licence.
Any person between the ages of 12 and 16 may operate a snowmobile as long as they are accompanied by a person who is licensed with the same conditions as above.
A learner’s licence is not considered a licence under the act. When it comes to supervision, the person doing the supervision must only be supervising one youth at a time, must have the youth in sight at all times and be within 50 metres.
Where can I ride?
Saskatchewan has vast areas to ride snow machines on. From groomed trails and provincial parks, to private land and lakes, knowing where you can legally ride is very important and is the responsibility of every operator.
Operation of a snowmobile on privately-owned land is lawful unless it is posted with signs restricting access. Snowmobilers are responsible for any violation under the Trespass to Property Act. 
Towns, cities and villages all have different rules relating to operation of a snowmobile. Riding a snow machine on a provincial highway is illegal. You can however legally cross a highway or road when safe to do so.  It is also illegal to drive a snowmobile in the centre median of a divided highway. This practice confuses motorists and is dangerous. If you are traveling within 100 metres of a highway, you must travel in the same direction as the highway traffic lane closest to you. In some cases, even the crossing of certain streets, roads or highways is illegal.
Our provincial parks have great groomed trails and riding is permitted only on signed trails. Riding on Crown land is lawful unless prohibited by signs.
Snowmobile Equipment
If you plan to drive your snowmobile at night, you require a working headlight and tail light. This makes the machine visible to all other operators, and allows the rider to see any obstacles in your path. Everyone who rides a snowmobile including passengers must have an approved helmet and eye protection. Most helmets come with face shields but if they do not, goggles must be worn by both the driver and the passenger.
I have seen in my travels people towing kids behind their snow machine. This is usually on a toboggan, a tube or some type of sleigh. This is an illegal and dangerous activity unless the conveyance being towed has a rigid tow-bar attaching it to the snowmobile. This prevents the sleigh from hitting the back of the snow machine or any other obstacle. The rigid tow-bar allows the sled to be stopped safely with the snowmobile. Make sure the people you are pulling also have protective headgear and eye protection.
Another issue that tends to pop up from time to time is people chasing wildlife with snowmobiles. It typically happens with coyotes and deer but has happened with other species of wildlife as well. This is illegal and if convicted the offender can receive high fines and even forfeiture of the snow machine.
In the vast majority of the cases, the snowmobile is seized until the court procedures are complete. Parents, please remind your kids because normally if they are involved in this activity they are most likely on your snowmobile, so remember the consequences.
Lastly, there are some common sense rules of the road that all users must know. Speed kills, so make sure you are following posted speed limits. Obey all signs on trails, follow at a safe distance, drive with due care and attention and please do not drink and drive.
Many people mistakenly believe that it’s legal to drink alcohol in public while stopping for their lunch or break. Conservation officers will ensure everyone’s safety and the consequences for consuming alcohol in public are severe.
Remember, a snow machine is considered a motor vehicle so impaired driving laws apply to all who operate them.
Editor’s note: Ministry of Environment conservation officer Lindsey Leko has spent more than 25 years as a conservation officer in Saskatchewan. For many years, Officer Leko contributed a column to local papers on a variety of issues related to hunting, fishing, and other resource-related issues. If you have questions, please contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

Read 350 times Last modified on Thursday, 15 February 2018 06:46