Speed Causing More Snowmobiling Accidents - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Speed Causing More Snowmobiling Accidents

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A snowmobiling accident last weekend sends a man to the hospital in critical condition, and leaves snowmobiliers wondering how to keep their trails safer.

It happened in the Little Naches Recreation Area just before 2 a.m. last Saturday, when a snowmobilier tried to take a turn too fast and hit a tree, causing several fractures and serious head injuries...

His family has requested that his name not be released, but the sheriff's department has confirmed the 42-year-old Moxee man was transported on a rescue trailer to a waiting ambulance where he was then taken to Yakima Regional Medical & Cardiac Center.

Most reports of snowmobile collisions are the result of speeding, just like this one.

Matthew Mead with the Washington State Snowmobile Association says snowmobiling is a respectful sport, and most riders are responsible on the trails

"Riding the trails that's a lot of fun, if you ride them safely, there's no problem," Mead said. "But if you ride too fast, beyond the ability of your headlights or anything else, you can get in trouble and it can be deadly."

And it's not just a problem of taking turns too quickly. Jerry Burr with the Yakima County Grooming Committee says some riders aren't sharing the trails fairly, which sometimes leads to collisions with other riders.

He says it is especially a problem if a rider isn't familiar with a trail and comes up on another group too quickly

"If you're around people, coming to intersections on roads, or off the trail, a little care and consideration ... a little cautiousness ... wouldn't hurt," Burr said.

Expert riders say mostly it's about common sense: don't ride a snowmobile in a way that you wouldn't drive a car, don't speed, don't take turns without looking and communicate your next move to other riders...

Mead says a majority of riders know to keep their speed reasonable, stay to their side of the trail and communicate with other riders. But not all riders are as responsible, and it's leading to a number of snowmobiling accidents.

"There's a group that come out here that are not safe and honestly those are also not the groups that are part of clubs, they don't participate in the organized side of snowmobiling. Honestly if they went away it wouldn't be a bad thing," Mead said.