Editor's post: Taking a cue from our neighbors
Gary King, editor | Wednesday, Oct. 20, 2013
With no fanfare or political posturing or even the need for legislation, the Wisconsin DNR could take a cue from their brethren in Minnesota and implement a simple change - a relatively inexpensive one - that potentially could keep another tragedy like the one that occurred at Osceola this past weekend, from happening again.
Granted, accidents will always happen. And the fact this is the first such accident since snowmobile safety programs began 50 years ago in Wisconsin underlines just how responsible safety class operators have been.
But obviously, there’s no strong argument against making this simple adjustment ... one more tweak for the safety of children.
The Minnesota DNR, according to a well-prepared newscast by KSTP, operates their snowmobile safety courses much the same as Wisconsin, but with a minor differences that stand out in the wake of last weekend’s tragedy in which a 13-year-old girl taking a snowmobile safety course was fatally injured when the snowmobiling she was on suddenly accelerated, striking the cement wall at a loading dock.
According to the Minnesota DNR safety manual, snowmobiles used for safety course “MUST be equipped with throttle blocks.”
Those blocks keep the snowmobiles, which are sometimes outfitted with commercially made wheel kits to allow them to operate on pavement, from going faster than 10 miles per hour.
Minnesota’s manual also suggests keeping the area within and around the course “free of potential hazards such as trees, cars, buildings, holes, large rocks, power poles, fences, or any other items(s) the students could hit.”
Hindsight is not only perfect, as the adage goes, it can be painful. Sometimes it results in action via legislation and/or a governor’s signature, prompting some to say we’re over-legislated, over-thinking citizens with a tendency to over-protect our youth.
This tragedy was one in tens of thousands, perhaps hundreds of thousands.
But how simple it would be to make it one in a million.