Snow Patrol & Staying Safe on the Trails!
Most of us think about “Snow Patrol” as the “out-to-get-us” type. The “I’m going to write a ticket just because” type…
Well I’m here today to say that they aren’t ALL hard cases and that there are those who really do just want to make sure everyone is safe out there and riding legally. This past season I was out riding with some friends, and we ran into a couple snow patrol officers. Everything was registered, everything was honky dory… but one thing. We were carrying some beer in our compartments to our final destination. None were opened, but we had one give us a hard time because of that. He of course, had our drivers do a couple tests to check sobriety. Which I can tell you is a tad more difficult in the snow with all the gear on. In the end, no tickets were issued and we were allowed to go on. But upon leaving, there was some grumbling, some words, and some bitterness towards the seemingly tough patrol. In all honesty, I’m glad there are those out there looking for the tipsy drivers and willing to be that tough to make sure they, as well as others are safe on the trails. There are far too many accidents and deaths involving alcohol and snowmobiles, just as there are with drivers and vehicles on the road.
This blog is simply a list of questions asked by some of our readers, as well as myself, to get some answers from our patrol men & women. Two (2) officers were given a list of questions for answering, which were returned to me based on their experience and knowledge.
1. Are you certified to ride your snowmobile? And did you take a training course?
Yes. Yes. Each officer took a course through the New York State Parks Snowmobile Law Enforcement Development School.
2. Where was this training course held? And how long was it?
Cobleskill & Old Forge, each course held was 1 week long.
3. What does your certification entail? What is your actual title?
Proper handling, water rescue, NYS and other snowmobile laws, and safety. Deputy Sheriff. Each officer receives a sticker and patch with other gear certifying them as a Safe Riders! Certified Operator under New York State Parks.
4. What was the hardest part of training? Easiest?
EVOC and water rescue. Trail riding.
5. Obviously the course is one of serious and complex training. But was it fun and exciting to get out and learn this new part of your job?
Yes, it was a fun experience.
6. Why can’t someone who doesn’t have a driver’s license get snowmobile insurance when you don't need a driver’s license to drive a snowmobile?
Snowmobiles are not considered a motor vehicle in NYS. Age factor. Not driving on a public highway.
7. Are you able to have an alcoholic beverage on the trailside while staying within the legal BAC while riding? And can you be ticketed for open container if not?
8. Is there a special phone number just for sled patrol in case someone gets lost or injured and needs help? Or would it be just 911?
911 is the ONLY number you should call for emergency situations. Please try to carry a GPS at all times so that your location can be determined quickly.
9. Do they have any idea if the vintage registration legislation is still being considered? What is their thought on a one-time registration for sleds over 25 years old like we have for cars?
This is an unknown question. Both officers had no information on this topic.
10. Is there a speed limit while riding trails that are parallel to roadways?
Usually posted, all trails along the Erie Canal are 25 MPH. 55 MPH max on trails, if on a road, follow road speed limit.
11. What's the reason they're not allowed to cross bodies of water? Insurance?
They are allowed to cross, it’s at the discretion of the officer on whether to cross (safety precaution).
12. How many times were you called out this season?
One officer had just finished school this season and had not had the opportunity to get out. The other had only been called out once.
13. What common problem have you come across this past season, mostly?
14. What is the number 1 factor in snowmobile related accidents that you have come across this season?
Speed and alcohol.
15. Was it your first time on a snowmobile during training?
16. What brand/make sled does your department utilize, and is that the case for most departments or do you get to pick which brand?
Ski-Doo. Department picks the brand.
17. Which brand/make do you prefer to ride, if any?
1- Ski-Doo. 2- No preference.
18. If maintenance needs to be done, do you utilize local services or does someone in the department maintain the sleds?
Local services are utilized.
19. If you had to choose, would you rather be out in your cruiser or on a sled patrolling?
20. Do you like doing snowmobile patrol? Why or why not?
1 - Yes. To interact with the community, learn the trails and parts of the county that you can’t reach in a vehicle.
2 - Yes. To learn more of the county terrain and better my career.
We’d like to thank each officer for their time in this matter and we appreciate their support and consideration in allowing us the time to interview them for our blog/website. We absolutely value and support all that they do to keep our riders’ safe and legal.
I was not able to interview them in person, however they voluntarily answered my questions on paper. If given the opportunity I would have asked more questions to their short-but-to-the-point answers. If you have any questions though, concerning these answers please feel free to email me and I will attempt to get more information ASAP.
We fully support and value the officers and all they do to protect our communities and our families. Their daily duties give us a sense of comfort and peace of mind knowing they are out there to protect and serve. A BIG thank you to all who dedicate their time on and off the clock to help others when in need.
Until next time…
… aaaand that’s a braaaap!
*** For more information: http://nysparks.com/recreation/snowmobiles/documents/SnowmobilersGuide.pdf