The Maine Warden Service is warning snowmobile riders to be safe on the trails and leave a note detailing the day's plans.

There have been four fatalities already this season as a result of snowmobile accidents and officials say the common thread seems to be excessive speed. It wasn't a great season last year, so folks are excited to get out and ride. But the trails are icy in places and that's causing the over-confident to lose control of their sleds. So there a few things riders need to keep in mind that will help them have a safer and more enjoyable season. For more tips, log onto the website for the Maine Snowmobile Association. 

  • Nathan Allred, ThinkStock
    Nathan Allred, ThinkStock

    Know When To Slow Down

    The most important thing to remember is that trail conditions may warrant that you slow down, and knowing when to make that adjustment. If you're on a straight-away and the trail is nicely packed down, with no other sleds in sight, then it might be okay to 'light it up' and drive fast. But if you're in an area that's icy, has a lot of blind corners, or is just unfamiliar to you, then easing off the gas is the smarter decision.

  • Jamie Squire, Getty Images
    Jamie Squire, Getty Images

    Stay On The Trails

    There are a couple of reasons for this suggestion and only one has to do with safety. It's important to stay on the marked trails, because areas off the trail haven't been groomed. You don't know what you're getting into, so the snow could be deeper than expected, not packed down, or you could run into hidden debris under the snow. But it's also crucial to remember that some landowner has given you permission to ride that trail. Wander off it and tear up their property and it may just get shut down to public use.

  • Photo, Michael Williams, Getty Images
    Photo, Michael Williams, Getty Images

    Ride Defensively

    You never know what you might come across on a snowmobile trail, so ride defensively. Keep to the right of the trail, slow down for corners and blind hills, use hand signals, and watch out for wildlife. This is Maine, after all. You may come across a deer, moose, or a flock of turkeys on your travels. Be ready for anything while you're riding! And maybe the most important tip is to always ride sober.

  • lolostock, ThinkStock
    lolostock, ThinkStock

    Leave A Trip Plan

    One of the most frustrating things for wardens and search organizations is to waste hours looking for a lost person, only to realize they're actually miles away from where the search was launched. So, leave a trip plan on your truck, detailing your day's journey. All you need is a piece of paper that has your name and the names of those in your party, what time you're leaving, where you intend to go, and what time you expect to be back. And stick to that as much as you can, just in case your find yourself broken down, lost, or worse.

  • Getty Images
    Getty Images

    Be Prepared For Anything

    You never know, when you hop on that sled, where the day will take you. So make sure you have supplies, in case it doesn't end the way you intended. Carry a spare belt and a basic repair kit. Take matches in a waterproof container, so you can start a fire. A pair of dry gloves, a cellphone (just in case there's service where you are), a compass, and some granola or candy bars. This is also why it's a good idea to ride in pairs because, if something happens, maybe one of you can go for help. And dress properly, including your helmet.

  • Bryan Sikora
    Bryan Sikora

    Use Caution On The Ice

    Riding a snowmobile across a pristine, frozen lake can be a blast. But it's also dangerous, if the ice isn't frozen completely. So make sure to ask the locals in the community if the waterway if frozen. And remember, just because it's frozen around the edges doesn't mean that it's frozen in the middle. Watch for pressure ridges that can cause your sled to stop suddenly. And use caution when exiting the waterway because you may not be able to see hidden rocks at the shoreline.

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