Now that it appears there will be a snowmachine season on the Kenai Peninsula this year, Alaska State Troopers and Kenai police are reminding enthusiasts to practice safe snowmachining and to follow some rules of the road.
In the city of Kenai, riding on roads, sidewalks, bike trails or walking paths is against the law. Riding on playgrounds, in city parks and on groomed ski trails at the golf course is also prohibited.
Snowmachiners are required to stop before crossing any street, road or driveway and riders should check traffic in both directions before crossing.
The speed limit is 10 mph when riding in the right-of-way of a business or residential area, near people or in a parking lot, and, if the rider is under 18 years old, wearing a helmet is required.
In addition to being cited and fined up to $300 for violating any of the Kenai city ordinances, riders can also be seriously injured or killed if they don't use care when snowmachining.
Outside city limits, the State of Alaska also has statutes governing the use of snowmachines.
If snowmachiners must cross a highway, the snowmachine must be brought to a complete stop before crossing and yield to any traffic on the highway.
Snowmachiners should look for traffic in both directions before crossing and make sure enough time is allowed to cross safely without interfering with traffic on the roadway. Roads should be crossed at right angles.
If crossing a bridge or culvert on a highway, snowmachiners must drive at the extreme right edge of the bridge or culvert and must not interfere with other traffic.
A snowmachine may be used on a highway when use of the highway by other motor vehicles is impossible due to snow or ice accumulation or other natural conditions.
A snowmachine can be used on a highway when it is posted or otherwise designated as being open to travel by off-highway vehicles.
Snowmachiners must ride only on a permanent seat attached to the vehicle and passengers may not be carried unless the snowmachine is designed and equipped with a seat for a passenger.
A snowmachine must be registered with the State of Alaska if it is operated in any area other than on private property.
In addition to the rules governing snowmachine use, the Alaska Department of Public Safety advises people to use common sense when snowmachining.
People should be sure the snowmachine is in good mechanical condition before venturing out, especially into wilderness areas, they should never travel in whiteout conditions and they should slow down and travel with caution when traveling on unfamiliar and seldom used trails.
To prevent mechanical breakdowns in remote, wilderness areas snowmachiners should regularly check drive belts, track tension, ski alignment, brake adjustment, recoil starters, chain oil, shocks, lights, clutch, brakes, suspension systems, spark plugs and ignition systems.
If planning extended trips in the back country, people should carry sufficient survival gear including a small tool kit with extra spark plugs, drive belt and oil and gasoline.
Survival gear might also include a tent or tarp, sleeping bag, food and liquids, strobe light, compass, emergency locator transmitter and snowshoes.
A booklet titled "Common Sense About Snowmobiling" is available from state troopers.
Troopers also recommend completing a Search and Rescue travel plan before leaving on any extended outing into the wilderness. The form, which should be left with a responsible adult before beginning the trip, includes information about planned areas to be visited, planned routes and expected return times.
Prepared wilderness trip plan forms are available on The Trooper Times Web page at www.dps.state.ak.us/ast/csb.
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