Warden's patrols focus on snowmobile safety - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

Warden's patrols focus on snowmobile safety

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SOUTHERN WISCONSIN (WKOW) - The crash death of a 14-year old snowmobiler reminds department of natural resources wardens their proactive work in ensuring safe snowmobile practices are vital.

The father of 14-year old Fort Atkinson High School freshman John Jaeckel says Jaeckel lost control of his snowmobile Saturday on a curve, as he rode with two friends.  He says Jaeckel had experience with snowmobiles.

State law allows children as young as twelve years old to operate snowmobiles of lower horsepower without the direct supervision of adults.  They can only be at the controls if they've completed a required, safety course.

Warden Nick King says he has seen groups of riders where individual riders ignore a safety principle.  "Riding to your ability,"  King says.  "Don' try to play catch up with somebody because different people have different experience levels."

King says there's a more common snowmobile traffic concern he's always on the look out for.  "Stopping at stop signs, intersections."

"They're crossing county highways at some point,"  says King, who patrols Green County snowmobile trails, and property.

There is no speed limit for snowmobiles during daylight operation, but a fifty-mile-per-hour limit at night.  Jefferson County authorities say the boy's fatal crash took place just before seven p.m.

All snowmobilers must have a trail pass posted on their device, and proof of registration.  In addition to state trails, snowmobiles can be operated on private land with the owner's permission.

"My experience is that for families, and some of them with young kids, has been sticking...to the trails...there's smooth, no rocks," King says.

King also says a buddy system on rides, with a designated riding order can help snowmobilers avoid hazards, wrong turns, and facilitate any needed emergency response.

"It's always a good idea to ride with an experienced observer in the front, and an experienced observer in the back,"  King says.


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