Staying safe on snowmobiles - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Staying safe on snowmobiles

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LINN COUNTY (KWWL) -

Over the weekend two Eastern Iowa snowmobilers died while riding. One collided with semi.  The other hit a fence and was thrown from his snowmobile.

Nathan Johnson loves to snowmobile. He even has a track set up in his backyard. He does his best to stay safe when he rides.

Johnson's day job also involves snowmobiling. He's the owner of JS Powersports in Cedar Rapids where he sells snowmobile parts and the safety equipment that he says can make all the difference.

Johnson urges his customers to buy helmets, goggles, and tek vests before they ride.

"There's a lot of people that don't wear these yet," said Johnson.  "They kind of think it's too expensive. But, the way we look at, you wouldn't go into a football game without a helmet and football pads on so why do you go out on a sled, sometimes 70-100 miles per hour without a protective vest and a helmet on?"

Another piece of equipment he likes to use when riding in a group is the Chatterbox, which allows riders to talk to one another about dangers ahead.

"This is probably one of the biggest things that's helped us avoid accidents," said Johnson.  "We're meeting other groups on a trail or something, you can just talk into it and say 'hey-another sledder's coming up' and everyone knows to slow down and stay to the right side."

Even with the right equipment accidents happen. Johnson believes the thing that would help Eastern Iowa snowmobilers most is a better trail system.

"It would be really helpful if we had some sort of an incentive program that farmers and other business owners and people would open up their land and let the sledders go through that," said Johnson.  "That would keep them off the roads and around the roads and so on."

Johnson says most of the trails in Iowa right now are in ditches which puts riders too close to roadways.

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