Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Publish Day - Ink Blog - Snowmobile stupidity

Growing up in Montreal, snowmobiles were never far away. People with cottages in the nearby mountains often had them for getaways into the woods. Snow in that part of the world was serious stuff: up north, you didn't mess with it.

Here in Ontario, snowmobiling is a dilettante's winter sport. And not a week goes by that we don't hear of some horrid accident. The gruesome parade claims whoever is young or dumb enough to take the chance.

So when I saw statistics that supported my long-held suspicion that this was an activity that disproportionately attracted idiotic behaviors and the idiots who seem to know no better, I felt now was the right time to write this:
Snowmobile stats chilling eye-opener
Published Thursday, January 26, 2006
The London Free Press

I’ve never been a fan of snowmobiles. They may be lifelines for those who live in the Arctic. But down here where winter is a temporary inconvenience, these hugely powerful machines become dangerous playthings for young men who drink too much, drive too fast and refuse to wear their helmets.

My hunch is confirmed by the Canadian Institute for Health Information. It just released a report that says snowmobile accidents were responsible for 41 per cent of all specialized trauma injuries in Canada in 2003-2004.

In contrast, snowboarding and skiing each accounted for 20 per cent, while hockey mishaps resulted in nine per cent of trauma admissions. The report adds half of the snowmobile victims were drinking, 80 per cent were men, and people under 20 were the most likely of all groups to be seriously injured.

Other statistics put the annual Canadian death toll from this so-called sport at 95.

It seems to me that there’s little benefit to society that justifies this carnage taking place mere minutes from our homes.

-30-
Epilogue: CTV news reported this over the weekend: Snowmobile accidents claim 5 lives in Canada. Looks like those numbers will be just as big this year. I guess we'll never really learn.

Your turn: Does the frequency of accidents fuelled by sheer stupidity make this activity inherently more dangerous and costly to society than others? Should something be done to rein it in? If so, what?

23 comments:

Radioactive Jam said...

I'm not sure what could be done to rein-in opportunities for stupid behavior. Remember the adage about failing to make things foolproof because fools are so ingenious? Stupidity and ingenuity seem to go hand in hand as well.

Although stupidity alone is sufficient for making no-helmet decisions (don't I know it).

Chele In {dot} LA said...

is a license required..
to drive those things....
did you cover that...

Uisce said...

beer and speed (velocity) are usually the cause. me, I stay away from these kinds of things. I meant the snowmobiles, actually! :) but seriously, if you're going to drink, stay away from the heavy machinery and vehicles!!

Shelli said...

I absolutely think that something should be done about this. I live in Minnesota, and I am sure that we have comparable statistics. I have known personally of two accidents and, low and behold, they all involved alcohol or drugs and high rates of speed. One died and the other was severely injured requiring long term rehabilitation.

kenju said...

We don't have many snowmobiles in our area, Carmi, but we do have ATV's (all-terrain vehicles), which some parents think are okay for teenagers to drive through fields and woods like maniacs. Every year teens die (and some adults) due to their own stupidity or inexperience). I believe that people under the age of 18 should not be allowed to drive them, and no alcohol should be allowed, just as it is in autos.

Plumkrazzee said...

Well, you already know my personal snow mobile saga. You will never, ever be able to educate people enough...or make them responsible enough to lower these statistics. It is human nature (to most) to feel invincible, and immortal. Mix that together with adrenaline and alcohol, etc., and you have a lethal combination. My grandfather owned a dealership when I was growing up, selling all various types of ATV equipment. We were allowed to ride from a very young age, but were always warned of the consequences of stupidity. Scared to death, actually is what we were. Whatever it was, it worked, and I'm still a huge fan of the snowmobile to this day. Unfortunately most people don't allow common sense to overide the excitement factor.

amanda m. said...

Culling the herd, Carmi.
They are culling themselves from the herd.

Minerva said...

Survival of the fittest? Certainly cruel...Sorry but it is to do with the drink/driving laws in the Americas...Teens want to drink and they are allowed to drive at such a young age...

*sigh*

sorry..not a helpful comment today..

Minerva

Karen said...

This is sort of an age-old question. In some ways, the same could be asked of automobiles. People have become so cavalier as they operate these machines with little regard for the lives around them.

I can appreciate Amanda's comment that this is "culling" the herd, but the problem is when they take innocent lives along with them.

In short, I don't know the answer. Interesting topic, Carmi!

Juggling Mother said...

They should be subject to the same restrictions as other motorised vehicles: a licence, driving test, and no drinking and driving.

over here we have the same debates about jet-ski's, although I don't think the eath toll is as high.

Jon the Intergalactic Gladiator said...

Heh heh.

Lot of stupidity occurs on these things, even though many people operate them responsibly.

It's that alcohol, speed and adreniline that people are talking about, riders get one of those "Hey watch this" kind of moments and wind up in a lake or ravine or what have you.

Carmi, did you see This ?

KaraMia said...

Is it unfeeling to refer to Darwins "natural selection" theory here?

Claire said...

We don't really get them over here, in fact I've never even seen a snowmobile! We do have stupid drivers though and think that the penalties for fooling around should be stricter and have more of an impact on the driver!

Pearl said...

Are they still not licensed vehicles? A lot of the accidents seem to be from drinking and driving and little kids or big kids going way too fast, often over unfrozen lakes. License against stupidity? Any other countries have any solutions we're not using?

AverageMom said...

My village is, of course, full of snowmobiles. I hate seeing kids driving them. Or even as bad, adults driving with a child sitting in front of them, no helmet. Kids aren't able to make smart choices, and so we see them zooming on the road, "skipping" over the open water on the lake, etc. Something needs to be done, but I'm not sure what would work.

netchick said...

Carmi, I think that like a motorcycle, these vehicles should require special licenses to operate. I think this would prevent a lot of fatalities from inexperience...

It's so sad, and so unnecessary.

sage said...

I hate snowmobiles! mostly because I like to cross-country and backcountry ski and there ain't anything worse than being out in solitude in some beautiful mountains and then have a pack of snowmobilers come whizzing by polluting the air and distrubing the silence. I think the government should require that they be much cleaner (at least as clean as a car) and quiter which would hopefully drive the cost up enough to discourage sales.

Killired said...

so are the accidents just that, accidents from people riding them or are they from the people that think they can do all the tricks on them that they see on x-games?
i personally would love to ride a snow mobile... i've heard they are similar to a jet ski, only on snow.. we used to have a jet ski and it was a BLAST! so i would love to ride a snowmobile... but i would ddo so safely.. with a helmet and all the correct gear... i have a mini dirt bike... i love speed!

David said...

in southern calif it is thre and four wheel all terrain vehicles, theparents who but tthese toys kill and maim a lot of young riders. sheer foolishness but not to be legislated away. we need more intelligent parents!

Killired said...

david... 3-wheel atv's were outlawed years ago...

toysrfun said...

after reading the original item and resulting comments, it verifies to me the misinformation that is out there, along with the lack of resources to enforce NO drinking and driving. That is the law as they are treated as an automobile in most jurisdictions. If you want to reduce the carnage, get tough with the defenders. You cannot legislate stupidity, but if they start enforcing the rules, we will all be better off.

Prego said...

This reminds me of a story I read once. A snowmobiler, concerned about his friends' safety, procured a tract of land for them to enjoy their gas powered snow vehicles. There was a (singular) tree on this field. Sure enough, first day out, one of his buddies barrels into it. Freak accident? Highly unlikely. I think stupidity is the appropriate term here.

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