Snowmobile Injuries

January 11, 1999

A study of snowmobile injuries and deaths in Alaska, published in the January/February issue of Public Health Reports, found that the rates of injury deaths and hospitalizations were higher for snowmobiles than for on-road motor vehicles. In Alaska in 1993-1994, snowmobile-related deaths occurred at a rate of 27 per 100,000 snowmobiles in use, while there were 17 deaths per 100,000 on-road motor vehicles in use.

Calculated a different way, the death rates differed even more dramatically: the rate of 17 deaths per 100 million miles driven in snowmobiles was much higher than the rate of 2 deaths per 100 million miles driven in on-road motor vehicles. The authors estimated that during the two-year period, on-road motor vehicles, including passenger cars and trucks, were driven more than 4 billion miles in Alaska, while snowmobiles were driven approximately 75 million miles.

In the northern region of Alaska, not only was the rate higher but there was a higher number of snowmobile injury deaths and hospitalizations than of injury deaths and hospitalizations associated with on-road motor vehicles.

The authors note that alcohol intoxication, lack of helmet use, and the limited development of trails contribute to the high risk of injury and death.

Public Health Reports

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