Snowmobiling and children: a question of common sense

Every winter, around 700,000 Canadians participate in their favourite sport: snowmobiling. Young and old alike, snowmobilers love to experience the excitement of being out in the fresh air surrounded by the snow covered vastness of our country. However, snowmobiling does have its risks. Young passengers, 15 years and younger, as well as young drivers aged between 15 and 24, are at serious risk of suffering head injuries. From January 11 to 17, during the International Snowmobile Safety Week, it would be a good idea to remember that in Canada, snowmobiling is the principal cause of serious injury while participating in a winter sport.

Snowmobiles designed for children have been available for several years now. But children should always be supervised when driving such a vehicle. No standardized provincial or territorial laws exist to regulate the driving of snowmobiles by children or teenagers. Even though all the provinces require the registration of snowmobiles (this regulation does not apply to the territories), some provinces do not have any age restrictions. So parents should take into consideration the warnings of the Canadian Paediatric Society which recommends that no child under the age of 16 should drive a snowmobile for recreational purposes.

Sledges, inner tubes, tires, saucers and all the other ways of sliding behind a snowmobile represent another huge danger. Children can be thrown off or can collide with trees or other obstacles. These accidents are all avoidable; parents, or adults accompanying children, just have to be prudent and use their common sense.