OPP now using aerial and UAS technology to enhance snowmobile safety

OPP Snowmobiling

With Snowmobile Safety Week getting underway this week, the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) are dismayed by the recurring causal factors in snowmobiler deaths, most notably, those that stem from snowmobilers travelling on unsafe ice again this season.

Three of this season’s six snowmobilers who died were travelling on unsafe ice. Two of the snowmobilers went through the ice. In the third ice-related incident, the snowmobiler drove into open water. Speed, driving too fast for the conditions and alcohol/drugs were factors in the other three fatal incidents.

During the 2017/2018 season, three of the 14 snowmobilers who died were also travelling on unsafe ice when they drove into open water. Alcohol/drugs were linked to six of last season’s fatalities and speed played a role in five of the deaths.

“The use of OPP aviation and UAS support demonstrates our latest efforts to keep snowmobile communities safe. Despite our commitment to saving lives, our use of innovative technology and our valued partnership with the Ontario Federation of Snowmobile Clubs, it is not enough. We need all snowmobilers to understand that regardless of where they are riding, the only safe ride is a risk-free ride.” – Deputy Commissioner Brad Blair, Provincial Commander, Traffic Safety and Operational Support.

In an effort to enhance snowmobile safety, the OPP is now engaging its aviation and Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS). Aviation support is an effective tool in a number of situations such as speed enforcement, search and rescue and detecting dangerous snowmobile operation. UAS support is a valuable resource at snowmobile collision scenes and for accessing locations that are inaccessible by other means.

“Safety is a shared responsibility for every snowmobiler on OFSC Prescribed Snowmobile Trails. Riders should remember that no ice is safe ice. Travel on staked trails, and check the Interactive Trail Guide before you go. The OFSC commends the OPP for their continued dedication to ensuring our trails remain safe for riders of all experience levels.” – Ryan Eickmeier, Executive Director, Ontario Federation of Snowmobile Clubs.

Snowmobile Safety Week runs from January 19 to 27, 2019.


The new Mandatory Alcohol Screening laws that took effect on December 18, 2018 apply to drivers of all motor vehicles, including snowmobiles.

LEARN MORE: OPP Provincial SAVE Unit


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