Snowmobile Injuries

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.


Contact: Michael G. Landen, M.D.
Public Health Reports

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