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Snowmobilers join forces with MADD

Law governing snowmobiles is very soft and barely enforced concerning the D.U.I problem-a problem that is unfortunately prevalent across the "snow states."


Trail enthusiasts know that responsible use is more than just courtesy. One snowmobile club has taken up the challenge of getting snowmobilers included in other motor vehicle laws against drunk driving. The following letter was sent to state legislators as well as Mothers Against Drunk Driving- Pennsylvania. The Tionesta Valley Snowmobile Club is a member of American Trails.

On behalf of the Tionesta Valley Snowmobile Club, located in Sheffield, Warren County, Pennsylvania, in the heart of the Allegheny National Forest, our Committee is approaching M.A.D.D. today to form a relationship regarding legislation to address the problem of D.U.I. relating to snowmobiling. As you may know, snowmobilers are permitted to operate certain designated joint-use roads (traditional motor vehicles and snowmobiles) governed by various jurisdictions ranging from public lands agencies to townships, municipalities, and PennDOT.

Currently, Pennsylvania law governing snowmobiles is very soft and barely enforced concerning the D.U.I problem-a problem that is unfortunately prevalent across the "snow states," as well as in northern Pennsylvania. There are a couple of alcohol industry supported rider safety programs, but they speak subtly to "moderation" of alcohol consumption while snowmobiling.

Since we snowmobile where we live, we see the absolute need for legislation to strengthen and enforce the law. As other groups representing snowmobilers have failed to address this problem, we believe it is our responsibility to seek solutions. To operate a snowmobile on joint-use roads in order to legally access food, fuel, and lodging, we feel that a snowmobiler should have to obey the "rules of the road" no differently than a motorist.

Our Club, devoted to family snowmobiling and the betterment of snowmobile trails in the Allegheny National Forest for the past twenty years, has been successful in getting the Warren County Township Supervisor's Association to sponsor a resolution to their central body in Hershey in the Fall of 1995, supporting mandatory liability insurance required to operate a snowmobile on any joint-use road in Pennsylvania, a valid operator's license required to operate these roads, and increased law enforcement to address these issues.
So far, our Committee achieved the mandatory liability insurance. We need support for the other two measures. We want to network with organizations such as M.A.D.D. to successfully achieve our goal, and we would appreciate your help.

There are four snowmobile safety instructors in our Club with over eighty years of combined experience in teaching the Pennsylvania Certified Snowmobile Safety Course. Last March we taught a week-long safety course as part of Outdoor Education at Sheffield High School.

We believe that this quest is achievable and will have a significant impact on both snowmobilers and other tourists to the Allegheny National Forest region. It will also empower law enforcement to deal with this issue throughout the rest of the state. Because we recognize the potential of this effort, our Committee wishes to open a dialogue with you and move forward with legislation.

For more information, contact Edwin W. Atwood, President,Tionesta Valley Snowmobile Club, 256 Mohawk Avenue Extension, Warren, PA 16365; Phone/fax: 814/726-2774; e-mail: Wingsley@penn.com

return to TrailTracks Fall '96 index