It is not uncommon to encounter unannounced police checkpoints on our local roads, where enforcement agencies look for proper registration and inspection stickers, seatbelts, drivers under the influence of alcohol or drugs, and other violations. These checkpoints benefit everyone by insuring that motorists comply with vehicle and traffic laws that are in place to make our roads safer for travel.
Snowmobile checkpoints, a result of the Franklin County Traffic Safety Board's "Off-Road Initiative," serve the same purpose for the sport of snowmobiling. A "Did You Know" article reviewing the laws that apply to snowmobiling appeared in the media that generally run these articles during the week of Dec. 12. That article warned that several enforcement techniques would be employed this winter. Such a checkpoint was conducted on Saturday, Jan. 15 on a popular snowmobile trail near the hamlet of Mountain View in northern Franklin County.
Enforcement agencies involved in this operation included state police, forest rangers, park police, and the Department of Environmental Conservation.
Officials stop snowmobilers at a snowmobile checkpoint
During the operation, approximately 300 snowmobiles went through the checkpoint. Officers looked for proper registration stickers and proper display of the registration on the cowling of the snowmobile. Helmets and headlights were also observed. If a violation was found, the snowmobile was pulled off the trail for further scrutiny, including proper proof of insurance. Radar in both directions was used to insure no one was exceeding the state speed limit of 55 mph.
The Jan. 15 checkpoint resulted in 13 violations being cited including:
-Six for unregistered snowmobiles (V&T Law article 2222.1)
-Five for improper display of registration (V&T Law article 2223.1)
-Two for uninsured operation (article 25.13-4 of New York State Snowmobile Laws)
There were also 22 warnings given for the following:
-18 for improper display of registration - placing reflective numbers on the cowling rather than the DMV-issued reflective placard does not meet the regulation and is a violation of improper display. Warnings were issued this time but will result in a violation in future snowmobile checkpoints.
-Two for failure to carry proof of insurance
-Two for failure to obey a stop sign
Snowmobiling, like driving a motor vehicle, comes with laws, regulations, and a need for courtesy to other people. Most snowmobile operators adhere to the requirements, but unfortunately some don't, and those that don't give the sport a bad name. The organized snowmobile details that Rangers conduct provide a multitude of benefits to the public. The first and most important of these is direct contact with the user group. Rangers provide a wealth of knowledge to the riding public on a vast array of topics, including trail conditions, routes, regulation needs and most importantly safety. These details ensure that those participating in this sport are doing so in compliance with the laws, rules and regulations set forth by the state in regards to snowmobiling, as well as other state land regulations.
For more safe driving articles, go to the Franklin County Traffic Safety Board's website at www.franklincony.org/content/Departments/View/24.
Dave Werner can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.