By Chris A. LaBarge
One of my life’s greatest enjoyments is being out on my sled chasing the trails, meandering along, or performing trail maintenance while enjoying the beautiful scenery of the North Country. As you read this, I am likely out on the trails performing maintenance or enjoying North County. You may have recently noticed a big push to further the expansion, safety, and maintenance of snowmobile trails in Franklin County, NY, resulting in many great experiences.
So, what does this have to do with insurance? Well, for me, everything. New York State has an annual report of 200-300 snowmobile accidents, with an average of 19 deaths yearly. In the insurance world, it is about more than just handling the claims and managing the risk. The insurance industry is also a driving force behind many safety initiatives to help keep everyone safe and minimize risk. This concept resonates with me and is one reason I purchased my family brokerage so I could be a part of the safety of Friends and Families. Yet, I knew I could do more.
A few years back, I looked at how we could improve and safely expand the trail system in Franklin County and started working with like-minded people and snowmobile organizations to help improve trails, connections to service providers, more directional and safety signage, and locate, update, rent and transport much-needed equipment to be able to make a difference effectively. The enjoyment of working in my community with local snowmobile clubs, businesses, and organizations recently came to a pivotal point. We were featured in a SnowTrax Episode showcasing our beautiful area and all the hard work we have accomplished over the years. I was truly honored to be a part of this episode and to speak to all the wonderful trails, snow clubs and local businesses!
When you have the chance, watch the SnowTrax Episode and then visit Explore Adirondack Frontier website and Franklin Snowmobilers Inc’s Facebook page for more information about our area, local snowmobile clubs, safety courses, and how you can become involved.
Here are a few steps you can take to stay safe during your snowmobiling experience:
- Take a Snowmobile Safety Course. Find a course at www.parks.ny.gov/recreation/snowmobiles.
- Check the weather forecast, trail conditions, and trail closure notices.
- Ensure you have all required/necessary equipment, i.e., helmet, muffler, headlight, reflective material, eye protection, and appropriate clothing.
- Perform regular maintenance on your sleds.
- Inspect your sled before every ride.
- Plan a route and take a Buddy along for the ride!
- Carry a First Aid & Emergency Repair Kit with you. For a list, look to the NYSSA NYS Snowmobilers Guide, pages 20-21.
- Stay Alert and do not speed or stop in the middle of a trail.
- Stay on the Trail and off from rivers and streams.
- Know the trail rules. Make sure you understand the trail signage and hand signals before heading out. For an infographic, look to the NYSSA NYS Snowmobilers Guide, pages 25-28.
A Few Great Resources:
New York State Snowmobile Association (NYSSA)
NYS Snowmobile Trails Interactive Map Mobile App
A few of the local businesses/organizations that helped make this possible: