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Is training required to drive a snowmobile?

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No training No special requirements are required to drive a snowmobile in Quebec. (Archive photo)

  • Maude Ouellet (View profile)Maude Ouellet

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At the following a fatal snowmobile accident in Val-des-Bois in 2022, a coroner recommends requiring specific training for snowmobilers.

Me Pascale Boulay made this recommendation in the report on the death of Patrick Proulx. On March 18, 2022, the 37-year-old man hit a tree head-on, very close to Federated Trail 43.

The coroner reports that his blood alcohol level was twice the legal limit, which allows him to conclude that the death was avoidable, but attributable to him.

Me Boulay believes, however, that questions arise about the snowmobiler's driving skills.

All the witnesses interviewed confirmed Mr. Proulx's clumsiness with his new snowmobile, which they found difficult to handle, especially because of the suspension. Significant modifications to increase performance were made legally, she writes.

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Patrick Proulx lost his life on federated trail 43, in Val-des-Bois. (Archive photo)

The coroner emphasizes that in Quebec, no special training is required to drive a snowmobile: you only need to have a valid driver's license. However, there is an exception for young people under the age of 16 who must take an online course. In Ontario, the regulations are almost the same.

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Modern snowmobiles are more and more efficient and powerful and can be more difficult to handle, so from the outset, the risks to human life are greatly increased. Consequently, it seems appropriate to me that training for driving snowmobiles is required as is the case in particular for boats, planes and motorcycles, she explains.

More and more snowmobiles are efficient and powerful. We are no longer in the era of my grandfather's snowmobile.

A quote from Coroner Pascale Boulay

Me Boulay also recommends that the authorities maintain their awareness-raising efforts to combat driving a snowmobile while impaired.

This is not the first time that a coroner in Quebec has recommended making training to drive a snowmobile mandatory .

The Ministry of Transport and Sustainable Mobility told Radio-Canada that it did not have it&# It currently intends to require mandatory training for driving a snowmobile.

The driving license is sufficient and you learn [to obtain it], in particular, all the issues surrounding the consumption of alcohol and drugs while driving which apply to snowmobiling. There are ongoing campaigns at the ministry to remind the population that when driving a vehicle or an off-road vehicle, drinking and driving is extremely dangerous and that it is not a good practice, indicated the spokesperson for the ministry, Louis-André Bertrand.

When it is appropriate, there may be this requirement, but for the moment, the ministry is not considering, in the short or medium term, making this requirement.

A quote from Louis-André Bertrand, spokesperson at the Ministry of Transport and Sustainable Mobility

The National Institute of Public Health of Quebec (INSPQ) looked into the effectiveness that snowmobile training could have.

In a scientific opinion sent to the Ministry of Transport in 2011, the INSPQ wrote that training with a practical component is sufficient developed may have some effects on drivers' knowledge and attitudes.

However, given the lack of research carried out on the subject, it is difficult to conclude that training could reduce the number of accidents.

L'INSPQ however, highlights another study that focuses on motorcycles: Stopping requiring a certificate of competency for drivers of small-displacement motorcycles contributed to an increase in the number of injuries, which could constitute indirect evidence of the effectiveness of such a measure.

For the Outaouais and Laurentides regions , the Sûreté du Québec calculates that 10 people lost their lives in a snowmobile accident between 2015 and 2020. During this same period, 2,229 snowmobilers across the province were either slightly injured, seriously injured or killed while practicing this activity.

  • Maude Ouellet (View profile)Maude OuelletFollow
Teilor Stone

By Teilor Stone

Teilor Stone has been a reporter on the news desk since 2013. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining Thesaxon , Teilor Stone worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my teilor@nizhtimes.com 1-800-268-7116