The RCMP’s guide to staying safe on your snowmobile

The CV RCMP offer tips on insuring, operating and staying safe on your vehicle this winter.

The Columbia Valley detachment responds every year to complaints involving recreational vehicles, including snowmobiles. We thought we would send out the following information just as a reminder.

All snowmobiles in the Province of British Columbia are required to be registered under the Motor Vehicle (All Terrain) Act.

At the time of registration the owner of the snowmobile must place the two yellow decals on either side of the tunnel. These decals are not transferable from machine to machine. A copy of the registration must be on the machine at all times.

Failure to provide proof of registration or failure to provide the supporting documents are separate, ticketable offences.

If your snowmobile has never been registered before, or has been modified with an aftermarket tunnel, or is from out of province, a mandatory check of your motor and chassis serial numbers are required for registration.

The Columbia Valley Detachment, or any detachment can assist with this, time permitting to verify your serial numbers.

Take note that if you have just recently bought a new snowmobile, it is advisable that you write down the serial numbers of your motor as it will be different than the one on your chassis.

If your snowmobile is stolen the chances of finding it increases by 50 per cent if you also provide the motor serial number.

Registration is affordable and is for the life of the snowmobile. However,  keep in mind that the province will want the sales tax and that is all dependant on what price was paid for the snowmobile.

All registered snowmobiles are allowed to utilize non maintained Forest Service Roads without ICBC Insurance. The maximum speed limit on a non maintained forest service road for a snowmobile is 80 km per hr.

Once a grader makes a swipe of  the road it becomes maintained.

If one wishes to use the snowmobile on a public road, even just to cross, by law, you need to have your machine licensed and insured just like a car.  Third party liability insurance is available from your ICBC broker.  Once insured, you then need to obtain a permit from your local RCMP which will outline where you can cross or utilize a road way.

For the most part in the Columbia Valley this may not be granted or feasible depending on the community, traffic volume, or lack of snow!

In theory ditch riding is prohibited, as liability insurance is required within 30 metres of the centre of roadway.

Insurance obtained through the B.C. Snowmobile Federation or obtained privately is liability insurance for off road use only. The insurance is void once the operator drives on or crosses a public road.

For driving on a non maintained forest service road, including public roads and crown land, the snowmobile must be in good mechanical condition with an operative headlight, rear light, and working brakes.

There is no enforceable helmet law while riding on Crown Land, but one is only tempting fate if they decide not to wear one.

Those who wish to mix recreational riding with recreational drugs, including alcohol, be advised that the Criminal Code of Canada prohibits the impaired operation of any motor vehicle including snowmobiles on any public road or public access area, including the back country or frozen lakes. Every year this detachment responds to incidents involving snowmobiles where alcohol  was the contributing factor to decision making.  It fogs the experienced rider’s judgement.

If a back country adventure is planned, plan and be prepared.  An avalanche beacon, probe, shovel, warm clothing, survival kit, first aid kit, and basic tool kit should be all considered.  Leave an itinerary with someone, and don’t go alone. Ride within your limits and ride with respect to the area you are riding in.

Ignorance is bliss, except when it comes to the law. The Columbia Valley detachment has snowmobiles and all members of this detachment are trained operators. Time permitting, enforcement patrols will be made in many of the snowmobiling areas.

We want you to have fun, safe fun!

— Cpl. Brent Ayers, Columbia Valley RCMP