OFSC Calls For Snowmobile Safety On Every Trail Ride

Recreational Trail Riders Encouraged To Make Smart Choices, Ride With Care & Control

International Snowmobile Safety Week, January 15 to 23

Key Points:

  • Ride responsibly for your own safety and for the safety those who share the trails with you.
  • Trail safety message especially important for participants new to organized snowmobiling.
  • Recreational OFSC trails are statistically the safest place to ride a snowmobile.
  • No snowmobile fatalities reported to date this season on OFSC trails.

(Barrie, ON – January 13, 2022): The Ontario Federation of Snowmobile Clubs (OFSC) joins the North American snowmobile community and our Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) partners in celebrating the 2022 snowmobile season with International Snowmobile Safety Week, January 15 to 23. The OFSC is the non-profit, volunteer-driven association that oversees organized snowmobile trails in Ontario.

Safety Week is an excellent opportunity for the OFSC to deliver a season-long message to recreational trail riders: Ride responsibly for your own safety and for the safety those who share the trails with you.

“Safe trail riding is always a top priority for the OFSC,” said Ryan Eickmeier, CEO, “but it’s even more important for every snowmobiler to take our common sense message to heart this winter as we welcome so many new riders to our trails.”

Tens of thousands of Ontario snowmobilers choose to ride OFSC Prescribed Snowmobile Trails each winter and return home safely after every ride. These winter enthusiasts, who ride with an Ontario Snowmobile Trail Permit on their sleds, can collectively travel up to 150 million kilometres per season on 30,000 kilometres of OFSC trails. This is one of the world’s largest recreational trail systems, totaling almost twice as many kilometres as Ontario’s provincial highway network.

OFSC trails are statistically the safest place to ride a snowmobile. As of January 10th, no snowmobile fatalities reported this season have occurred on any OFSC trail. But snowmobilers must always remember that trail riding, like many other outdoor activities, has inherent risks. Not least is that this activity occurs in an unpredictable and uncontrollable natural environment, often far from home, so trail riders must always be prepared for the unexpected by making smart choices and operating their sleds with care and control.

Smart Choices

Smart choices start with always staying on available, designated OFSC trails. Wandering off any trail surface into unbroken snow, unfamiliar terrain or farmers’ fields can not only be risky for the rider, but may also compromise the safety of landowners or their property.

The OFSC Interactive Trail Guide (ITG) helps trail riders make the smart choice of staying on the trail. The ITG is the only authorized source of information for recreational snowmobiling on OFSC Prescribed Trails. Using the ITG or the Go Snowmobiling Ontario App, riders can confirm that trails are either GREEN (available) or YELLOW (limited availability) trails before every ride. Any trails shown in RED (unavailable) are not safe for any snowmobiler to ride at that time. The PRO version of the Go Snowmobiling App even includes a “Share My Location” function that can be used as a safety tracker in case of emergency.

Smart choices also start with good training. OFSC Driver Training is the snowmobile safety course authorized by the Ministry of Transportation of Ontario (MTO). This online course is available for anyone aged 12 or older to teach new snowmobilers the skills and habits necessary to be safe and courteous trail riders. Since inception, Driver Training has graduated 250,000 students who qualified to obtain a Motorized Snow Vehicle Operator’s License issued by MTO.

Trail riders should always choose the right safety gear. This includes a properly fitted, fastened and approved snowmobile helmet, and brightly coloured, weather proof outerwear with reflective materials, purpose-made for snowmobiling. A protective TekVest is also a worthwhile addition to trail safety gear.

This winter, the OFSC encourages every trail rider to make one more smart choice. Everyone needs to respect the safety of the communities we visit, service providers we encounter, residents we interact with, and of other snowmobilers, by following health protocols established by the Province and public health units.

Best Practices

In addition to snowmobile safety fundamentals like avoiding alcohol/drug impairment and speeding, and to always “know before you go” on any ice, the OFSC Safety Week message reminds participants of best practices for recreational trail riding with care and control, including:

  • Ride within your abilities and comfort level.
  • Know your sled and its capabilities, keep it well-maintained.
  • Always ride with a companion(s).
  • Ride in single file on the trails.
  • Leave plenty of space between you and the sled ahead.
  • Ride your side of the trail.
  • Take responsibility for the rider behind you.
  • Be especially vigilant coming into corners or cresting hills.
  • Pass groomers and other riders cautiously.
  • Take extra caution on public streets and logging roads.
  • Slowdown at night or when visibility is poor, when non-motorized users are on the trail, or when passing through towns or residential areas.
  • Stay alert to the trail ahead and aware of your surroundings.
  • Stop on the trail at locations with clear sightlines in both directions.
  • Check area weather conditions before your ride.
  • Before leaving home, notify someone where you will be riding and when you expect to return.
  • Always carry an emergency kit, snacks, extra fuel, a tow rope and a communication device.

Riding on organized OFSC trails is a special privilege for Ontarians and the OFSC encourages all trail riders to embrace our Snowmobile Safety Week message all season. Please make smart choices and riding with care and control part of your group’s routine behaviour on every trail.

The Ontario Federation of Snowmobile Clubs (OFSC) is a volunteer led, not for profit association that provides the voice for organized snowmobiling in Ontario. OFSC snowmobile trails managed by 200 community based, member clubs generate up to $3.3 billion in economic activity in the province each year.

 For questions or to schedule a media interview with the OFSC, please contact Lisa Stackhouse at: [email protected]

OFSC Reports End of Season Shut Down of Many Farm Country Trails

Snowmobilers Warned To Stay Off Closed Trails Until They Re-Open Next Winter

(Barrie, ON: March 11, 2021) – After delivering some of the best trail riding opportunities in recent memory throughout much of Southern Ontario, the Ontario Federation of Snowmobile Clubs (OFSC) reports that snowmobile operations are ending for this winter in many of its southern-most districts.

With the trail base deteriorating rapidly from mild and rainy weather this week, many local snowmobile clubs, especially those in predominantly farm country areas, have now closed almost 10,000 kilometres of trails, many for the season. More are expected to shut down soon if early spring-like conditions continue. Other clubs are asking snowmobilers to stay off their trails this weekend, until groomers can roll again next week, so as not to increase existing damage to the fragile snow base.

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OFSC Urges Trail Riders To Make Smart Choices On Family Day Long Weekend

Smart Choice #1 For Snowmobiling Is Riding Available OFSC Trails

(Barrie, ON: February 11, 2021) – Snowmobile trails operated by clubs belonging to the Ontario Federation of Snowmobile Clubs (OFSC) comprise about 40% of our province’s recreational trails, a network that continues to be the smart choice for where to ride your sled. Recent statistics provided by the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) show that over 90% of snowmobile fatalities this season have occurred on roads, ice and unmaintained areas, and not on available OFSC trails. That’s one good reason why we’re pleased to welcome smart riders to over 22,000 kilometres of snowmobile trails now available for local riding this Family Day Long Weekend.

We want you to feel safe on our trails and arrive home without incident after every ride. To help, we’ve invited the OPP and other enforcement services to patrol our trails this weekend. You can do your part to safeguard your family by reminding everyone in your group of smart riding choices expected on our trails. There is no more important time to take this advice to heart than Family Day Long Weekend when so many families and new riders will be sharing our trails for a special winter outing. These smart choices include:

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OFSC Adds Public Health Unit Boundaries To Interactive Trail Guide

Boundary Lines Assist Snowmobilers To Ride Locally Within Their Public Health Region

(Barrie, ON: January 27, 2021) – With winter finally upon us and thousands of kilometres of trails now showing either Green or Yellow on the Interactive Trail Guide (ITG) for local riding, the Ontario Federation of Snowmobile Clubs (OFSC) has created a new tool to assist snowmobilers.

As of today, we have temporarily added public health region boundaries (blue lines) to the ITG on our website, which are visible in both Trail Network and Trail Status views. They will also show on the Go Snowmobiling Ontario Apps after your next regular data update. The blue boundary lines will help you to stay within your own public health region while riding available OFSC trails and enable you to plan your local rides more easily while complying with public health measures.

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OFSC Urges All Snowmobilers To Follow Public Health Protocols

Together We Can Do This!

(Barrie, ON: January 20, 2021) – On January 18th, the Ontario Federation of Snowmobile Clubs (OFSC) received the news that, effective January 21st, 2021, North Bay Parry Sound District Health Unit (NBPSDHU) is temporarily closing all OFSC trails within its region for the duration of the provincial Stay At Home Order. This district stretches from Parry Sound on the shores of Georgian Bay, east to Mattawa on the Ottawa River, and from Novar north almost to Marten River. It also includes many OFSC clubs and their volunteers in OFSC Districts 10, 11 & 7 who have worked very hard to prep their trails and, in some cases, had commenced grooming operations despite a late start to winter.

In a news release from January 18th, 2021, Dr. Jim Chirico, NBPSDHU Medical Officer of Health, stated that: “I have received many complaints about people travelling from other districts to use the local snowmobile trails, thus putting our district at risk of COVID-19. The OFSC recommends that snowmobilers avoid trailering and travelling to destinations that are outside their health unit region to snowmobile, but people have not taken the direction seriously.”

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OFSC Trail Riding Provides Physical & Mental Health Benefits for Snowmobilers

Physical Activity of Snowmobiling Contributes To Rider Well Being This Winter

(Barrie, ON: December 17, 2020) – For more than 50 years, The Ontario Federation of Snowmobile Clubs (OFSC) has delivered 30,000 kilometres of snowmobile trails for the enjoyment of Ontarians while also providing numerous economic, social and health benefits. While the economic impact of snowmobiling is well-documented in several studies and now reaches up to $3.3 billion annually in our province, only recently have the social and health benefits of snowmobiling been professionally quantified.

According to a recent University of Guelph (UofG) study conducted for the Canadian Council of Snowmobile Organizations (CCSO), “snowmobiling is a good form of physical activity.” The UofG Human Performance & Research Laboratory study concludes that snowmobiling is a “moderate intensity physical activity”, with a “typical ride using a similar amount of energy to downhill skiing or snow shoveling.”

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